?Roy Reynolds, a six-foot, 219-pound center from Iowa.
?Sidney Gill, a versatile back best known for his exploits on the Haverhill (Mass.) High School basketball team.
?Alonzo Odem Dial, an end from California and former Negro leagues ballplayer who'd just gotten his engineering degree.
?C.W. (Bus) Bergen, a husky New Jersey kid who'd starred in basketball and baseball at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
?L.D. (Goo Goo) Livingston, a 225-pound tackle who'd played for the Pennsylvania Red Caps, an independent black baseball team of luggage porters who worked at New York's Penn Station.
?Samuel (Reverend) Royal, a speedy but tiny running back from Virginia State.
The team's name came easily, borrowed from the nickname of a rising young heavyweight named Joe Louis. What the squad needed most, however, was a home field. In a day when most black teams were forced to pay exorbitant booking fees to the white booking agents who presided over the city's stadiums, there was only one man for the Bombers to see: the gentlemanly giant of 145th Street, Alex Pompez.
Pompez was a criminal in the eyes of the police and a crown prince in the eyes of Harlemites. From his cigar store, the soft-spoken Cuban ran a numbers bank—a lottery that filled his pockets to the tune of $8,000 a day—which he used to fund his Negro leagues baseball team, the New York Cubans. Courtly, suave and scrupulously honest with clients, Pompez was beloved in Harlem for his civic generosity.
All went swimmingly for him until an evening in 1931 when the Bronx-based gangster Arthur Flegenheimer, better known as Dutch Schultz, employed his .45 revolver to persuade Pompez to hand over control of the numbers game. Needing another source of income, Pompez turned to his sports enterprises. In 1935 he leased a vacant field at Dyckman Oval from the city and transformed it into one of the finest sports palaces in Manhattan. He built a covered grandstand featuring box seats, a sound system and floodlights, making it the first ballpark in metropolitan New York to host night games. (It also had a permit to operate a beer garden, alcohol recently having been relegalized.) "There is no comfort that the fans can crave undone by Pompez Exhibition Co. Inc.," pronounced the Age. The park soon was a stage for boxing, cricket, baseball—and now football. Thanks in part to Dutch Schultz, the Bombers had a stadium that fit Pollard like one of his tailored jackets.
What Pollard still needed was an opponent for his Bombers. He made arrangements to play some top minor league teams and announced in the sports pages of the black weeklies that bigger things were in store. "Negotiations for night games with the Brooklyn [football] Dodgers and New York Giants are under way," one report said. Another was even more hopeful, declaring that the Giants had challenged the Bombers to a game in late November. If the date couldn't be worked out, Pollard assured readers, "a post season game will be arranged."