Hampton Normal Institute in Virginia (now Hampton University) was started as an educational institution for both African American freed slaves and Native Americans in 1868. Booker T. Washington was among Hampton’s first students when the first record of baseball at Hampton appeared in a Harper’s Monthly article about the school in 1873.
In 1901, baseball took over campus and as many as 14 teams were on campus. In 1910, Rube Foster brought his famous Chicago Giants to town to take on both Hampton and Atlanta University. This same team, the”Hampton Institute Cubs” posed for a team photo under a banner proclaiming them to be “Hampton BB League of 1910-11 Champions.” The next year, The Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) was founded in Hampton with the Institute as a charter member, where the office remains today. In 1915, the siblings of Philadelphia Athletics pitcher Chief Bender attended Hampton Institute. Not much else exists (on the internet anyway) about the team itself from 1915 to around 1958.
Throughout the 50’s and 60’s, the Pirates repeatedly turned out numerous all-conference players. In 1972, Hampton University ceased all baseball activities, curiously after their coach Bobby C. Martin was named CIAA Coach of the year. To this day, Hampton University (now a member of the MEAC) is the only NCAA Division I school in the Hampton Roads area without a baseball team. Only one professional player for the Hampton Pirates is in the Baseball Reference database: Jody Williams, who had 47 ABs for Pittsburgh’s affiliate in low-A Watertown in 1987, 15 years after Hampton shuttered it’s program.
Obscure Team of the Week is a new feature in which we recount historic minor league, negro league, and foreign teams throughout baseball history.