Notable Alumni: “Biz” Mackey, Dick Lundy, Jud Wilson, Frank Austin, Henry McHenry and “Slim” Jones
Formed by Ed Bolden in 1933 with the financial backing of promoter Eddie Gottlieb, the Philadelphia Stars would not have to wait long to prove their mettle against the very best of the Negro Leagues. After only one season of independent ball, the Stars joined the Negro National League in 1934, and took home the league’s championship that very year. Although the Chicago American Giants contested one game’s results after losing to the Stars in seven games, the outcome was never overturned, giving the Stars the title of Negro National League champions.
While the Stars would never again win another league championship, they continued to regularly rank among the Negro National League's best and remained fixtures in the league for over a decade until it disbanded in 1948. Not to be deterred, the Stars would carry on for a few more seasons in the Negro American League. But after the integration of Major League Baseball in the late 1940s and the passing of Bolden in '50, keeping the club alive became increasingly difficult. Gottlieb and Bolden’s daughter, Hilda, would attempt to run the Stars themselves, but they were unable to do so for very long, and the team was forced to disband after the 1952 season.
What had made the Stars unique was their close relationship to the community. Bolden had previously worked in the Philadelphia post office, and the team would enlist numerous local players to suit up for them. Among them were outfielder Gene Benson, infielder Mahlon Duckett, and catchers Bill Cash and Stanley Glenn. All four had played high school ball in the Philadelphia area, and none were lacking in ability. Cash would eventually become a Negro League All-Star, and Glenn wound up playing four seasons in the Boston Braves organization.
The Stars' legacy in Philadelphia remains ever apparent. At Penmar Park, where their home stadium once stood, there is now a memorial dedicated to the franchise. In an era and league where teams would often be forced to move and relocate, the Stars managed to never lose their Philadelphia identity, and that in itself is one of their greatest achievements.