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African American Baseball in Orange

1940 Orange Tigers

Like many towns in the Virginia Piedmont, Orange has a rich tradition surrounding America’s favorite past-time…baseball. Since the turn of the 20th century, amateur and semi-professional teams were a common fixture in many of the towns and cities across Virginia. Orange had teams as well.

According to Walter Ware, a former local negro league player and historian, the first Black baseball team in Orange was the Tigers, managed by Louis “Flip” Robinson who was employed at the Pitts-Madison Theatre. The members of the Tigers generally worked at businesses and farms in and around Orange (e.g., Kentucky Flooring, Orange-Madison Co-op, Rapidan Milling Co., etc.). The Tigers played on a field at the old colored horseshow grounds on Rte 612.

Later, the Tigers would use Porterfield Park to play their games. Players on the Tigers included: John Robinson, Sr., Brandy Derricks, Zeke Walker, Sr., Sonny Blakey, Clarence Snead, Gus Ellis, Ike Howard, Alfonso Hill, Bootney Alexander, James Washington, and Gerald Starke, among others.


Later, Henry Alexander formed the Orange Youngsters team which played in Orange for a few years. When James Washington took over management of the Youngsters, he reorganized the team as the Orange Nats and provided its financing. Nats games were often played at the field near Lake Orange on Route 629 or at Prospect Heights. They then played games at Porterfield Park in the 1960s.


Nats players included: Isaiah “Zeke” Walker, Mettrer Murrill, Chales Humes, Walter Rucker, Roger Jackson, James Monroe, William Carter, Gilbert Robinson, and others. The Nats were a talented team, although typically undersized against most opponents. The team won more games than they lost.


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