Baseball team, Amber Valley, Alberta, ca. 1930, [NA-704-6]. Courtesy of Glenbow Archives, Glenbow Library and Archives, University of Calgary.
With nicknames like Doc, Big J, Moose and Peepsight, you could be sure that the baseball team made up of Amber Valley’s finest players would put on a show for their fans every time they stepped on the field.
But if they were that good, how come nobody knows who they are? And where on Earth is Amber Valley?
Many families moved from Oklahoma to Alberta, like Thomas Mapp and his family, ca. 1925, [NA-316-1]. Courtesy of Glenbow Archives, Glenbow Library and Archives, University of Calgary. Modifications to this image include cropping.
Many Black people were taken from their homeland of Africa and brought to different parts of the world to work as slaves. Slavery in the United States ended in 1865, but Black people were still treated very poorly after that.
Some Black families from the state of Oklahoma moved to Alberta and Saskatchewan to escape mobs who sometimes raided their towns, burned down their homes and carried out other acts of violence against them.
Some of them eventually settled and created a tiny community called Amber Valley near Edmonton, Alberta. It had a school, church and post office.
Some people called it the “Promised Land.” Others said it was in the middle of nowhere. For the 300 people that called it home, it was a place that provided them with safety and a new life.
The Amber Valley Baseball Team, 1930. Top row, L-R: Cliff Brown ('Doc'); Everett Medlock ('Forty'); Horace Hiton ('TC'); J.B. Brown ('Big J'); Alvin Brown; Alonzo Edwards ('Moose'); Oswald Lipscombe ('Peepsight'). Bottom row, L-R: Booker T. Edwards ('Book'); Arthur Saunders ('Man'); Kenneth Edwards ('Kenny'). [NA-704-6]. Courtesy of Glenbow Archives, Glenbow Library and Archives, University of Calgary.
In 1926, a man named J.D. Edwards started a baseball team to represent Amber Valley in games against other teams in northern Alberta. The team was known for their skill and for playing with style! They were so entertaining that large crowds came out to see them wherever they played.
During that time, all-Black teams in the U.S. were only allowed to play against other Black teams. But the team from Amber Valley played white teams in Alberta and earned the respect of all of their opponents.
The hometown heroes from Amber Valley never had the opportunity to play in a professional league. Despite being from a small town, they were able to use their talents on the baseball diamond to bring people together. That made them winners in more ways than one!
Like the players on the baseball team from Amber Valley, there are lots of athletes who are using their talents to make changes in our world today.
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers, 2021 (Harry How/Getty Images)
NBA superstar LeBron James created the I Promise School to provide a great education to kids from the city where he grew up.
Tennis star Naomi Osaka of Japan, 2020. (Al Bello/Getty Images)
Tennis champion Naomi Osaka showed her support for justice and fair treatment for all people by speaking out against racism.
Kia Nurse takes a shot against France, 2016. (Andrej Isakovic/Getty Images)
Canadian athletes like WNBA star Kia Nurse and NHL player Matt Dumba do their best to make things fair for everyone to participate in sports by creating opportunities for girls and people of all backgrounds through helping out in many organizations.
The Amber Valley baseball team and these amazing athletes show us all that doing your best to make a positive difference in the lives of others makes you a winner both on and off of the field!