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Gerome Riley – HIstorian, Semi-Pro Baseball Player


Born near Chelsea, Oklahoma, Gerome Riley attended a rural all-black school through the Eighth grade. And because of segregation he had to choose between going to Claremore, Nowata, or Vinita for high school. He selected Claremore Lincoln and became a member of Claremore’s only boys’ basketball state championship team in 1952.

Gerome was a member of the Claremore Clowns, a local baseball team of all-Black players who played teams in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, and Kansas. The Clowns were considered a semi-pro team. The end of school segregation in the early 1960s meant the end of the Claremore Clowns.

Riley worked 37 years for Phillips Oil Company. He started out as a porter at the Will Rogers Turnpike station at the Claremore gate and became the station’s final manager. He retired in 1995.

Gerome became a student of Black history, and as a living part of that history, he contributed his knowledge to the Claremore Museum of History.

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