In the early years of the 20th Century professional baseball was a wild affair on the west coast. Playing second fiddle to Pacific Coast League franchises, the rough and tumble teams of the California State League battled with dozens of semipro squads, both white and black, for the attention of local fans.
Traveling teams from outside the Golden State also found California fans eager to put up their money to see high caliber baseball. Not the least of these out-of-state squads was the Salt Lake City Occidentals, a traveling "Negro League" squad that claimed to be the "Colored World Champions."
An article in the March 29, 1910 issue of the Oakland Tribune announces a three-game set between the State League's Oakland Invaders (not to be confused with the USFL football team of the 1980s) and "the classy colored baseball team, the Occidentals, of Salt Lake City, which is at present making a tour of the principal cities of the United States." The Occidentals hit town with advance billing as the reigning world champions and boasting their willingness to defend the title against all challengers.
Whether or not the Occidentals actually toured the "principal cities of the United States" is doubtful. That they were not the reigning world champions is certain. Nonetheless, such information as has been collected about the team does indicate that the squad enjoyed a remarkable longevity for a western traveling team of any race during the early 1900s. By the time the team appeared in Oakland for the 1910 contests it had been in operation for at least six years.
An April, 1904 article in the Reno Gazette recounts a game between the Occidentals and a nine of local college players in Reno. The start of the game, reportedly attended by several hundred people, was delayed for a few hours by the late arrival of the Occidentals. The team, traveling by train to Reno, was delayed by a train robbery outside Benecia. Such were the perils of barnstorming baseball in the Wild West.