|Founded||Founded in 1972 by Eddie S. and Nick G.|
|Colors||Black and White|
|Symbols||Shield, Playboy Bunny, and Cane|
Many stories have floated around about the origin of the Twelfth Street Players as being linked to the Cicero Esquires and Berwyn Kings etc…Although it is true many Esquires and BKs flipped to Players in later years, those organizations were not part of the foundation of the Twelfth Street Players.
The Twelfth Street Players were born out of the Arch Dukes organization as the original members were Pee Wee members of the Dukes aged approximately 13 years old. The two founders were Eddie S and Nick G who were born in 1959 making them 13 years old in 1972 when this happened. I am not sure exactly why Eddie and Nick decided to break from the Dukes to start their own organization but it may have had to do with lifestyle choices as the original Players were true greasers that dressed the part and even listened to oldies from the 50s and 60s as they drank beers. Eddie and Nick put the Players together alongside Tony C, Russel and Steve and others.
In 1972 when the Twelfth Street Players were first born they were not well-known in the Cicero community mainly because of their young age. The Noble Knights were formed the same year and also did not get recognition right as they were about the same age. The boys lived mainly at 13th and 60th which drew them to hang out at Roosevelt (12th Street) and Austin Ave at the Big Top Restaurant that used to be located at 6001 Roosevelt Rd. This restaurant was the original Twelfth Street Player hangout. The Players also hung out at the old Church’s Chicken that was located at Roosevelt (12th Street) and 61st. The Players also hung out at Freddie’s at 16th and 60th which is still in business to this day located at 1600 S 61st Ave.
The symbol of the bunny came from the Playboy bunny logo. The rest of the symbols of a top hat, cane and gloves come from being gentlemen. The original Players had many fine attributes and were decent characters which made the gentleman part of their history come to be.
The Twelfth Street Players inherited the same enemy as the Arch Dukes as they battled in wild battles with their fists against the Ridgeway Lords from Little Village. The Ridgeway Lords always invaded Cicero all the time angering many gangs created in Cicero for a few generations, the Players would adopt this rivalry. The Players also despised the Cicero Freaks. The original Players did not like the Freaks because they used lots of drugs and were hippies, the Players did not like hippies. Players also fought the Gaylords that used to come hang out from the city as well.
In the year 1976 the Players flipped many Cicero Esquires and Berwyn Kings into Players which allowed Players to expand into the nearby suburb of Berwyn along Roosevelt Road (12th Street) by the Burger King at Roosevelt (12th) and Oak Park Ave. Now the Twelfth Street Players became very well known in 1976 as they dominated a major portion of Roosevelt.
In the year 1980, the first Mexican families began moving into Cicero in the Grant Works area. These Mexican families came from the nearby Little Village neighborhood in the city if Chicago which bordered the suburb of Cicero. Even though Player territory was a distance away from Grant Works the Players still attended the same schools as these newly arrived Mexican youths. Among the first Mexican families came members of the Two Sixs, Two Two Boys and Imperial Gangsters, especially the Two Two Boys. Just like their allies the Noble Knight the Twelfth Street Players were going at it hard with these three gangs which would only grow in intensity year by year in the early 80s. During this same time the Players became more popular in Berwyn and opened a chapter at 37th and East Ave near Freedom Park.
In the year 1981, the Noble Knights, Twelfth Street Players and Latin Kings came together to join the alliance the Latin Kings were part of known as the “People” alliance because of mutual hatreds of common enemies. The Two Sixs, Two Two Boys and Imperial Gangsters were part of the rival Folk alliance so the Twelfth Street Players and Noble Knights joined People at the same time as Folk and People was being spread all over the streets in 1981.
In 1987, the Players opened up more turf as they spread into the suburbs of Lagrange, Lyons and Brookfield. Since all of these suburbs were connected, the Players worked with the Latin Kings to viciously battle the Two Two Boys, Two Six, Black Gangster Disciples and Simon City Royals that dominate these suburbs and were allies with each other. In Countryside, the Twelfth Street Players were the only People Nation gang battling against BGDs and Two Two Boys.
In the year 1990 Countryside, Brookfield and Lagrange sets closed down as police presence was stepped up and many members joined the military. In the mean time, in Cicero, the Two Sixs, Black Gangster Disciples and Satan Disciples were invading Cicero in heavy numbers and the Players were slugging it out with them. The Latin Counts were also building up in Cicero since about the mid 1980s but they were a fellow People Nation gang that hung with Players, Noble Knights, Bishops and Latin Kings in Cicero.
In the year 1991, the Latin Kings and Latin Counts erupted into a vicious gang war that escalated incredibly fast. Both gangs would not accept any allied gang of theirs to be allied with their enemy; therefore, they made Noble Knights and Twelfth Street Players choose to either be allies with Kings or Counts and war with the other. The Players, Noble Knights, the South Side Insane Popes and Almighty Popes were stuck in this dilemma but they decided to make the decision together except the Almighty Popes who chose to ally with Latin Counts. The other three decided to let the Counts bring it on as they kept their friendship with Latin Kings. The Twelfth Street Players’ response to the war was much more harsh than the Noble Knights’ response as the Players gunned at Latin Counts and began killing their members; however, the Latin Counts got revenge by swarming all over “The Island.” The war between Players and Counts at The Island got so intense that it brought heavy police presence there. Many Players then began flipping to Latin Kings in the early 1990s and the Players lost numbers then could no longer hold their first set at Roosevelt and Austin and they decided it was not worth retaining anymore.
In the mid 1990s, all hope seemed to be lost for the Twelfth Street Players to the public eye but leader Jake Lane took over and retained the Cicero sets of 18th and 61st and also 14th and Roosevelt Road down to Roosevelt Road and 61st Court. He also made his way into Chicago right near Midway Airport into the Clearing neighborhood on 63rd street. They were guided in by the South Side Insane Popes and both gangs became “Cousins” as their alliance was tightened even more.
The Popes were fighting wars with the Almighty Popes, Latin Counts and several Folk Nation gangs; therefore, allies were welcome. For any other mob in Chicago suburban gang history it has been impossible for a gang to originate in the suburbs then open territory in the city. The Players were welcomed by the Insane Popes at 63rd and Oak Park Ave as the Players settled two blocks away at 63rd and Normandy to set up their new headquarters and help the Insane Popes battle the Almighty Popes of 63rd and Oak Park. The Twelfth Street Players are the only gang that has ever accomplished this task of colonizing the city from the suburbs.
The Twelfth Street Players had a lot of hardcore members that were quick to shoot a rival dead and this got them well set up along 63rd from 63rd and Central to 63rd and Major. The Players also set up at 62nd and Melvina right outside Nathan Hale Elementary School and recruited outside the school as they hung out in Hale Park. They also set up turf at 62nd and Nagle on the other side of Hale Park. Finally, the Players opened at 64th and Nottingham “Players Alley.” Within no time the Players were making their presence known in their new Chicago home and rivals were angered at the presence of a suburban gang in the city and went after the Players; however, the Players would make many rivals regret it by killing one after another.
On December 14, 1995 a double homicide made the news that the Almighty Popes gunned down two 13 year old girls at 62nd and Melvina because the girls were hanging out with Ridgeway Lords. The media attention was huge on this story because it involved two white girls getting killed in a mostly white community in a neighborhood where several Chicago police officers resided.
After the shooting Chicago police cracked down hard on any gang that looked like they were Popes. If they heard the name Pope and/or saw the black and white colors they closed in hard. Insane Popes were the biggest victim of this police sweep because they wore the black and white colors and carry the last name “Pope.” The Players were a victim of the sweep too because they wore the black and white and were at 62nd and Melvina. There was also guilt by association because Players and Insane Popes hung out.
In 1998 charges were handed out to the top leaders of the Almighty Popes and the gang dissolved in the city after that. It was not enough for the CPD as they took down the majority of Insane Pope territory as well. The Twelfth Street Players lost all of their turf and had to leave the city entirely because police weakened their numbers so badly they could no longer fight their rivals effectively and still be a profitable organization. The Players then abandoned their sets but only for a few years.
I usually do not put any 21st century history in my histories but I must mention the Players came roaring back in the year 2000 and reclaimed a lot of territory on 63rd street once again which is another major accomplishment for any gang again because no gang reopens several sets in the city, usually once you are gone, that is it but the Players made it happen. Eventually the 63rd street sets would not last but the 64th and Nottingham set stayed.
Please send in old school pics. 1970s pics will be especially appreciated! Please send any pre 2000 pics!
- What exact year did the Chicago Clearing chapter first open?