State Line Booker T's

The Booker T's were a semi-professional Negro baseball team based near the Arkansas-Missouri state line on Highway 61, five miles north of Blytheville, AR, from 1935-1937.


The Booker T's were created in 1935 by Harry Bailey, a notorious white businessman who owned and operated numerous establishments along "the curve" on Highway 61 on the Arkansas-Missouri state line. Bailey was a large and charismatic man with a reputation for violence and frequent trouble with the law. Among his legitimate ventures on the state line were a filling station, liquor store and restaurant. He also sponsored various types of local entertainment including boxing matches and baseball games. However, Bailey's establishments were best known as hangouts for gangsters and other shady characters, as well as for bootlegging and illegal gambling. In 1932, Bailey was charged by the federal government with conspiring with local law enforcement to violate prohibition laws and was sentenced to four years in prison.1 He was given an early release in 1934 and allowed to resume his operations along the state line. The following spring, Bailey added a ballpark to his properties and formed the Booker T's, an all-black baseball team.2 The Booker T's competed against both regional black teams and local white teams and even played a late-season game while riding donkeys.3 Among Bailey's recruits for the 1935 team was Frank McAllister, a 17-year old star pitcher from Forrest City, AR who later went on to pitch for many seasons in the major Negro leagues with the St. Louis Stars franchise. Another attraction for the Booker T's was Bill Ball, a one-armed outfielder from Luxora, AR on the 1936 team. Nevertheless, the Booker T's experienced what the local press called "indifferent success."4 Meanwhile, Bailey struggled to develop a white team to play at his state line ballpark. In 1936, he organized an independent white team called the State Line Giants, but returned his attention to the Booker T's when the Giants disbanded midseason.5 In 1937, Bailey went so far as to hire former major leaguer Gus "Happy" Foreman to head the operations of both his white and Negro teams. Although Foreman initially strengthened the Booker T's lineup and secured a schedule of notable opponents, he soon left the state line to manage the Zulu Cannibal Giants. Bailey seemingly dissolved his baseball operations some time thereafter, likely due to his ongoing legal troubles. In April 1938, he was arrested for first degree murder, though a judge later dismissed the charge.6 In October 1941, he was charged with second degree murder and later sentenced to 10 years in prison as a result.7 However, he served only a few months of this sentence before he was again allowed to return to his home at the state line, having been given a temporary release, parole and a commuted sentence by Arkansas Governer Homer Adkins.8 9 On March 8th, 1945, Bailey suffered a fatal wound during an altercation at his restaurant on the state line. He had attempted to use his own gun as a club during the fight when it was dropped, picked up by another, and fired three times at Bailey. He died on March 13th in a Memphis hospital.10


5/26/1935State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOLutes (AR)W7011
6/21/1935 Senath (MO) Red BirdsW White team.12
7/1/1935Senath, MOSenath (MO) Red BirdsT55White team.13
7/4/1935State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOFisher Body (Memphis, TN) 14
7/13/1935Osceola, ARClaybrook TigersL2615
7/14/1935State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOSenath (MO) Red BirdsW73White team.16
7/16/1935State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOIndianapolis (IN) Sterling GreysW8017
7/21/1935Campbell, MOCampbell (MO) ChicksL12White team.18
7/24/1935State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOHayti (MO) All-Stars 19
7/25/1935State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOSenath (MO) Red Birds White team.20
8/8/1935State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOMarie (AR) GreyhoundsW6221
8/9/1935Osceola, ARLincoln Stars (Memphis, TN) 22
8/11/1935Osceola, ARLincoln Stars (Memphis, TN) 23
8/18/1935State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOMemphis Blues (Mounds, IL) 24
8/25/1935Mounds, ILMemphis Blues (Mounds, IL) 25
9/?/1935 Memphis Red SoxL2326
9/15/1935State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOJonesboro (AR) 27
9/15/1935State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MoSteele (MO) Played on Donkeys.28
6/21/1936State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOMemphis StarsL3629
6/22/1936Legion Park, Caruthersville, MOCaruthersville (MO) GreyhoundsL4930 31 32
6/28/1936Legion Park, Caruthersville, MOCaruthersville (MO) GreyhoundsL4533 34 35
7/12/1936State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOLincoln Stars (Memphis, TN) 36
8/23/1936State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOHolcomb (MO) All-StarsW111037
8/30/1936State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOMemphis Mud HensW54White opponent.38
10/11/1936 Memphis Mud HensL13White opponent.39
10/18/1936State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOMemphis Mud HensT22White opponent.40
10/25/1936State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOMemphis Mud Hens White opponent.41
3/21/1937State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOMemphis Red Sox 42
4/11/1937State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOMemphis Mud Hens White opponent.43
4/18/1937State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOBrooklyn Giants (Memphis, TN)L1644 45
5/2/1937State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOHouse of David White opponent.46
5/4/1937State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOCanadian Clowns White opponent.47
6/21/1937State Line Ball Park, Hermondale, MOMemphis Mud Hens White opponent48


Freddie Biggs6/1/1917 in Osceola, AR 4/5/1993 49
Cy Buck 50
Willie "Son" Cherry8/2/1902Jan 1985 Manager51
Jackson 52
Frank McAllister4/29/1918 in Forrest City, AR5/5/1987 in Cairo, IL 53

Bill Ball5/24/1905 in Little Rock, AR Sep. 1966 in Wayne County, MI54
Buys 55
Byrd 56
Chick 57
Freddie Biggs6/1/1917 in Osceola, AR 4/5/1993 58
Nickleson 59
Williams 60

Bill Ball5/24/1905 in Little Rock, AR Sep. 1966 in Wayne County, MI61
Cunningham 62
Freddie Biggs6/1/1917 in Osceola, AR 4/5/1993 63
Jack Johnson 64
Kelly/Kelley 65 66