Central Pennsylvania African American History for Everyone
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Spottswood Poles, 1887-1962Detail from Harrisburg Giants print by Dan TilghmanOscar Charleston in Harrisburg, 1922



the 20th century

Cliff Christian and the Steelton Giants

The article below appeared in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Telegraph on July 18, 1933.

Christian Real Baseball Mentor

Steelton Policeman Has Good Team in Giants; Wins Many Honors

A collection of some of the best Negro baseball stars of this section, under the leadership of Cliff Christian, Steelton policeman, is bringing many honors to Steelton by the fine record they have established in baseball circles this season.

Christian, referred to frequently as another “Colonel Strothers,” has gathered together former high school, college and semi-pro players to form the Steelton Giants, which has won from some of the best clubs in Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. These boys have traveled great distances.

The mentor always has been a loyal backer of Steelton sports and prominent for the past twenty years.  Before taking up the reins as manager he had established a record for being a good athlete. He has a large following and formerly played second base on the Harrisburg Giants.

Plan Tour

“Cliff,” as he is called by his fellow-policemen, plans to take his boys on a tour through all parts of Pennsylvania and southern states because of numerous requests.

Recently the boys returned from Fredericksburg, where they exhibited a class of ball that will long be remembered. “Cliff,” who comes from the South, said his boys played before more than 1000 people at a single game, which is reported to be a large attendance for ball games in the Virginia states.

The down-river team plays all of its games away from home because of no playing field. Plans are being arranged by Christian to have his boys play three home games with Cottage Hill or the West Side Hose Company for the championship of Steelton. These games are expected to draw one of the largest crowds ever to witness a ball game in the borough.

Tonight the Steelton club will play Belmont A.C. on the Belmont diamond, Twenty-first and State streets. The game will start at 5:45 o’clock.


"Christian Real Baseball Mentor," Harrisburg Telegraph, July 18, 1933, newspaper clipping in folder marked "Baseball - Music" at the Alexander Family Library, The Historical Society of Dauphin County, Harrisburg, PA.


A group photograph of the police force of Steelton Borough in 1937 includes six patrolmen, three of whom are African American.  The African American patrol officers are Clifton A. Christian, William Woolfolk and Joseph Shepherd.  The photograph is reproduced on page 118 of the book Steelton, Pennsylvania; Stop--Look--Listen, by John B. Yetter (Harrisburg, PA 1979).

A 1930 Steelton Directory entry shows Clifton A. Christian, police officer, residing at the home he owned at 641 South Fourth Street. No spouse is listed with him.(1930 City Directory for Steelton, Pennsylvania - CE .. CL)  An earlier Directory listing, from 1919, gives his address as 911 South Second Street.  In this listing his occupation is given as laborer, and a wife, Elsie, is named. (Boyd's Directory of Harrisburg and Steelton, 1919).

The 1930 Directory lists fellow police officer and homeowner William Woolfolk and his wife Ada L. at 501 Bessemer Street. 

Cliff Christian died in 1941 at 46 years of age.  His tombstone in Midland Cemetery reads "Clifton N. Christian, 1895-1941."  His wife Elsie is buried beside him.  She lived 1893 to 1926.

Wednesday the club will journey to Bloomsburg to play the Bloomsburg All-Stars.  On Thursday afternoon the team goes to Hershey where they will play Middletown A.A. as an added attraction to a picnic.  Saturday the boys meet the Carlisle A.C. on the latter’s field.  They will play the Lebanon Fire Company on Sunday, Royalton on Monday, and Danville on Tuesday.

Steelton Giants

The Steelton club is composed of Robert Lee, shortstop, former Camp Curtin Junior High School star; Buddy Carpenter, former second baseman of the Harrisburg Giants; Warren Goodman, center field, who played with Johnson’s All-Stars of Montreal, Canada; Poke Banks, former Camp Curtin and William Penn athlete; Moffett, local semi-pro player, third baseman; Slaughter, catcher from Georgia state; Robert Lacey, left fielder and pitcher from Camp Curtin and William Penn schools of Harrisburg; Bob Williams, of the Harrisburg Colored Monarchs; Byrd and Garners, both of Susquehanna Township High School; Smith, another local boy, who is the best pitcher on the team, and Robert Scott, another Harrisburg star athlete.

The Steelton Giants have defeated Clinton A.C. team of Harrisburg in easy fashion. Another good team that the Steelton club beat was Manheim. The only games that they lost this season were to the Shade A.C. club of Harrisburg, which Christian said are their “jinx.”

For More Information

Read "Blackball in Harrisburg" by Knorr and Jackson
Go to part 1: "Early Games and the Independent Era"
Go to part 2: "League Play and Major League Integration"
Read Colonel Strothers' obituary from the Telegraph

For more on Steelton's African American community, visit the
Friends of Midland Cemetery homepage on this site.

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This page was updated March 22, 2023.