The Memphis Red Sox were an American Negro league baseball team that was active from 1920 to 1959. Originally named the Barber College Baseball Club, the team was initially owned and operated by Arthur P. Martin, a local Memphis barber. In the late 1920s the Martin brothers, all three Memphis doctors and businessmen, purchased the Red Sox. J. B. Martin, W. S. Martin, and B. B. Martin, would retain control of the club till its dissolution in 1959. The Red Sox played as members, at various times, of the Negro Southern League, Negro National League, and Negro American League. The team was never a titan of the Negro leagues like wealthier teams in northern cities of the United States, but sound management lead to a continuous thirty-nine years of operation, a span that was exceeded by very few other teams. Following integration the team had five players that would eventually make the rosters of Major League Baseball teams and two players that were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 1921 Memphis had two main Negro baseball clubs, the Memphis Union Giants and the A. P. Martin's Barber Boys Baseball Club. The Union Giants were owned by real estate salesman and bookkeeper Sherman G. King. The Union Giants were managed by Chick Cummings who was also a player on the team. The A. P. Martin's Barber Boys, also known as the A. P. Martin's Barber College Team, was the creation of a Memphis barber named Arthur Peterson Martin. The team was a way for Martin to promote his two barber shops which were located in Memphis on Main and Beale Street and his barber college.
The A. P. Martin's Barber College Team had been in existence since at least 1920. They played home games at Russwood Park. The park was home to the white minor league Memphis Chicks. Toward the end of the summer of 1920 a promotion in the Arkansas newspaper the Hot Spring New Era invited readers to come out and watch the “Championship of the South” as the champions of Tennessee, A.P. Martin's Barber College Team face the champions of Arkansas, the Vapor City Tigers. An article in the same paper states that, “the Memphis club has beat everything in Tennessee and Alabama.” The results of the games were not published.
The Memphis Union Giants or Memphis Giants had existed in some form since at least 1907. They played throughout the region. The Giants played members of the National Association of Colored Baseball Clubs in 1908 and 1909. They are mentioned in local newspapers until 1915. From 1915 till 1920 there is very little mention of them or any other black teams from Memphis. The team appears to have disbanded during these years as the announcement for the 1921 team said the city was "... reorganizing the famous Memphis Union Giants known in times gone by as one of the fastest Colored team in the country."
Of these two teams the Union Giants were billed as "the toughest team in the south", but the Barber Boys Ball Club was the preeminent team due to their membership in the Negro Southern League. The Barber College Team played the Chicago American Giants as the northerns toured the south in early April 1921. The Barber Boys lost 2–1 in eleven innings. The Chicago Tribune's short write-up of the game lists Martin's team by name. Southern newspapers, though, often referred to the team as simple “Memphis” or one of several other names. The Montgomery Advertiser referred to the team as the Memphis Stars and the New Orleans Times-Picayune listed the team as the Memphis Black Chicks. It wasn't till late July that the newspaper, the Tennessean, published an article about Elite Giants who were to play a four-game series against the Memphis Red Sox.
At the start of the 1922 baseball season the team representing Memphis in the Negro Southern League was no longer the A. P. Martin's Barber Boys Baseball Club but rather the Memphis Red Sox. Players on the Memphis Red Sox were a combination of players from the Barber Boys and the Union Giants. John W. Miller was the team president and Chick Cummings, the former manager of the Union Giants, was manager of the new club. The team played their first game at Russwood Park on May 3 against Birmingham Black Barons. Memphis won the game against the Barons 4–0. The Red Sox played the rest of their 1922 season home games at Russwood and Field's Park.
With the new team name came new owners, John Miller (also the team president) and Moses Dandridge. Miller and Dandridge were co-owners of the Liberty Auto Repair of Memphis. They purchased the Barber College Team from A. P. Martin in 1921. The two would own the team for less than two seasons. By 1923 they had sold the team and Dandridge was no longer listed as a co-owner of the auto repair shop.