In typical International House fashion, this August the hotel will pay tribute to another local legend, Louis Armstrong, with a month long salute incorporating jazz music, classic art, and most notably, a fashionable remake of Armstrong’s “Secret 9” baseball jersey from 1931.
While most know Satchmo for being “The Emperor of the Trumpet,” as the African-American weekly newspaper of the time, Louisiana Weekly, once dubbed him, few realize the jazz-legend also had a great love for baseball. In the early 1930s, in an era of extreme segregation in New Orleans, Armstrong congregated and sponsored his own underground baseball team, The Secret 9, giving African-American players the opportunity to play against each other at a professional level. Armstrong decked out the Secret 9 players in the finest uniforms ever seen on the sandlots of New Orleans. The jerseys were in fact so stunningly pristine, that they were said to negatively impact the Secret 9’s play on the field, as players were afraid to dirty their stylish jerseys.
For the month of August, the front door and front desk team at the International House hotel will wear tributary jerseys, which read “Armstrong” in bold black letters across 100% cotton classic baseball button-downs.
The story of The Secret 9 lives on through a handful of salvaged Louisiana Weekly articles from August 1931, which will be displayed in the lobby throughout the month. Louis Armstrong records will play overhead while original Herman Leonard photographs adorn the walls. The hotel’s bar, Loa, will offer an Armstrong-themed cocktail, "Laughing Looie," a riff on a Ramos Gin Fizz, Sachtmo's favorite New Orleans libation.
The Secret 9 Jerseys are available for purchase at International Housel, or by calling the hotel at 504.553.9550.
As Armstrong always wrote, “Red Beans and Ricely Yours…”