In 1940, with no particular association to the North African country, team owner Syd Pollock decided that his Miami-based, all-black, half-comedy, big league ballclub be deemed the Ethiopian Clowns. The nickname was certainly more appropriate than its suggested place of origin. It was not enough for this extraordinarily talented group of black players to out-pitch, out-field and outhit every opponent they barnstormed. For this club to capture the imagination of its immensely white audience, they had to employ some rather unorthodox methods, understanding that entertainment and novelty were as important as wins and losses. By 1943, they would be accepted into the Negro American League, where they would capture three straight championship titles, provided they scale back their “extreme comic behavior.” But then again, these were the Clowns.
Syd Pollock’s 1940 Miami Ethiopian Clowns. An independent barnstorming team. One of the more entertaining drawing cards in black baseball. htp://www.nlbpa.com/ethiopians.html
Better known for their colorful antics, the Clowns were also a sound baseball team. In 1952, they won the Negro American League championship with a young cross-handed slugger from Mobile, Ala., named Hank Aaron. The Clowns fielded such stars as Buster Haywood, DeWitt “Woody” Smallwood, showman “Goose” Tatum, and future Major Leaguers John Wyatt (A’s), Paul Cassanova (Senators), and “Choo-Choo” Coleman (Mets).