Add Your Heading Text Here

Oscar Charleston

Oscar Charleston was born in Indianapolis and he became the best all-around baseball player in history. Yet, even sophisticated baseball fans and most Hoosiers don’t know his name.

Indiana native Jeremy Beer and Indianapolis documentarian Jerald Harkness are teaming up to tell Oscar’s story. Harkness is turning Beer’s book into a film titled The Lost Superstar. The Oscar Charleston Society is operated by Sagamore Institute to help produce the film. Please donate here

Who was Oscar Charleston?

Buck O’Neil once described him as “Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Tris Speaker rolled into one.” Among experts he is regarded as the best player in Negro Leagues history. During his prime he became a legend in Cuba and one of Black America’s most popular figures. Yet even among serious sports fans, Oscar Charleston is virtually unknown today.

In a long career spanning from 1915 to 1954, Charleston played against, managed, befriended, and occasionally fought men such as Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Jesse Owens, Roy Campanella, and Branch Rickey. He displayed tremendous power, speed, and defensive instincts along with a fierce intelligence and commitment to his craft. Charleston’s competitive fire sometimes brought him trouble, but more often it led to victories, championships, and profound respect.

While Charleston never played in the Major Leagues, he was a trailblazer who became the first Black man to work as a scout for a Major League team when Branch Rickey hired him to evaluate players for the Dodgers in the 1940s. From the mid‑1920s on, he was a player‑manager for several clubs. In 1932 he joined the Pittsburgh Crawfords and would manage the club many consider the finest Negro League team of all time, featuring five future Hall of Famers, including himself, Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson, Judy Johnson, and Satchel Paige.

Charleston’s combined record as a player, manager, and scout makes him the most accomplished figure in Black baseball history. His mastery of the quintessentially American sport under the conditions of segregation revealed what was possible for Black achievement, bringing hope to millions.

The Lost Superstar

Studio Auteur, LLC, a content creation company that specializes in documentaries, has teamed up with Sagamore Institute to develop, produce and distribute a two hour documentary titled The Lost Superstar: The Oscar Charleston Story

Based on Jeremy Beer’s biography on Charleston, The Lost Superstar will use narration, historic footage, and re-enactments to tell the fascinating story of the early decades of the Negro Leagues and the forgotten stars of black baseball. It includes violent brawls, historic games, interracial barnstorming contests, and a previously untold episode in the history of baseball’s integration. 

The Negro Leagues were a crucially important part of the American experience. Oscar Charleston, whose career spans the decades of the leagues’ rise and fall, was not only his era’s biggest star, but a man who exemplified the grit and spirit it took to flourish under the conditions of segregation.


Jerald Harkness, President and CEO of Studio Auteur, has over 25 years of documentary production experience. Harkness has produced and directed for Paramount TV, UMC, ESPN, VH1, A&E, PBS, and the NCAA. Notable awards include a national Emmy, Best Documentary for the International Academy of Web TV, the inaugural Spotlight Award from the Indianapolis Black Documentary Filmmaker Festival, and various other festival awards, including three Heartland Film Festival Selections.

Studio Auteur’s recent work includes producing and directing the biographical documentary The Bright Path: The Johnny Bright Story that will air nationally in 2023.

The Life and Legend of Baseball's Greatest Forgotten Player

The Lost Superstar documentary is based on Jeremy Beer’s book, Oscar Charleston: The Life and Legend of Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten PlayerThrough original research, Beer uncovers the forgotten story of one of baseball’s greatest players. Watch Jeremy Beer and Milt Thompson discuss the book project in the video below.