Sunday, January 29, 2006

Barnstormin' exhibit to open in Virginia with 10 ex-Negro Leaguers in attendance


The Rev. Hank Mason used to go by the name "Pistol." That was back in his glory days, when he pitched for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Baseball Leagues. Today, the Ginter Park resident isn't that interested in people remembering his nickname. But he'd sure appreciate it if they knew where he and his teammates got their start. "There are so many people who don't know about the Negro Leagues," said Mason, who earned the nickname "Pistol" thanks to a 95-mph fastball.

"When I tell people I played for Kansas City, they think of the Royals," he said of the Major League team. "But the Negro Leagues are a part of the history of America. We all need to know about that."

Mason is doing his part to educate baseball fans and non-enthusiasts alike. He will be on hand Friday at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center for the opening of "Barnstormin': the Negro Leagues: 1920-1960."

The exhibit marks the museum's return to regular operating hours. It had been open by appointment only since March because of financial woes.

"This exhibit will be good for Richmond," Mason said. "I sure hope people who are not familiar with the Negro Leagues will finally realize that there was more to baseball than the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox."

About 10 other former Negro Leaguers, including Ed Hudson from Richmond and Mamie Johnson from Washington, one of three female players, will join Mason on opening night, to be held from 7:30 to 10 p.m . . .[more]

Hank Mason baseball card image courtesy Retired Ballplayers Site

Thursday, January 26, 2006

New KC Royal Reggie Sanders to attend Forecast Luncheon and visit Negro Leagues Museum

KANSAS CITY, MO -- The Kansas City Royals are pleased to announce that outfielder Reggie Sanders, who signed a two-year deal with the club this offseason, is scheduled to attend the 14th Annual Baseball Forecast Luncheon on Friday, Jan. 27.

The luncheon, which is hosted by the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission, will begin at noon at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center, located at 2345 McGee Street in Kansas City, Mo. Following the luncheon, Sanders will also make an appearance at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The Royals Caravan group is scheduled to appear on 810 WHB's Between the Lines show live from the museum, located at 1616 East 18th St. in Kansas City. Fans are encouraged to stop by to meet the Royals group from 3-4:30 p.m. and enjoy a complimentary tour of the museum.

Sanders joins the Royals after spending his entire 15-year Major League career in the National League, including the past two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. . . [more]

2000 TV movie "Finding Buck McHenry" to re-run this week


Finding Buck McHenry (2000) (TV)

When an 11 year old boy (Michael Schiffman) gets cut from his Little League baseball team, he sets out to form his own team. He persuades a school custodian (Ossie Davis) to be the coach. As the new coach starts working with the team, his knowledge leads the boy to suspect that the man is really an ex-Negro League legend who disappeared from sight years ago. The kid sets out to find out the truth about the man's background. Ossie Davis' real-life wife also appears in the film as his wife. Former Chicago Cubs' star, Ernie Banks, also appears as a Negro league star.

Movie description courtesy Imdb.com

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Kingwood, Texas to celebrate Negro Leagues during Black History Month

Negro Leagues players J.C. Hartman and Ezell King will appear as part of Black History Month festivities at Kingwood College. [more]

Friday, January 20, 2006

Negro Leagues Museum 'portrays both the shame and the glory of an uncomfortable period of American history'

DeWitt Era-Enterprise | by C. F. Scott

Museums are wonderful places. They can show all kinds of things, from triumph (the World War II Museum) to shame (The U.S. Holocaust Museum). It is a rare museum that can provide glimpses into both.

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, which I visited in December, manages to portray both the shame and the glory of an uncomfortable period of American history.

Negroes were freed from slavery by the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1865, and guaranteed equal rights by the 14th Amendment in 1868. However, it didn’t always work that way. After the end of Reconstruction in 1877, blacks were increasingly banned from participation in mainstream institutions of American life.

One of those institutions was baseball, which in the late 19th century was rapidly becoming “America’s Pastime.” Negro players were part of professional baseball from the beginning, and Moses Fleetwood Walker; his brother, Weldy Wilberforce Walker; and Frank Grant were sufficiently talented to play in the International League, then considered a “major” league, in 1887.

But many white players, especially Adrian “Cap” Anson, one of the top stars of the time, were sufficiently prejudiced to resent the ability of the black players. When Anson demanded that professional baseball “get that n***** off the field,” his colleagues agreed. . . [more]

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Hall of Fame nominee J.L. Wilkinson was founder of "night baseball" and Negro National League

By Sharon Rice | The Friday Flyer Assistant Editor | Rick Pond never met his great-grandfather, J.L. Wilkinson, but he is very proud of him nonetheless and has done extensive research into his contributions to the world of professional baseball. In early January, Rick attended the sixth annual Legacy Awards at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, where he had the opportunity to meet with Wilkinson’s old friend and professional baseball player/major league coach, Buck O’Neil, age 94.
He also visited with the daughter of baseball great, Satchel Paige, who still uses the dining table Paige purchased from the three-story antique store in Kansas City owned by Wilkinson and his wife. One of several Legacy Awards is named for Satchel Paige and was presented to the top pitchers in the American and National Leagues during the recent ceremony: Dontrelle Willis of the Marlins, and Johan Santana of the Twins.
But what business, one might ask, does this young white man from Canyon Lake have mingling with current and former Major League players – black ones at that? Simple. His great-grandfather J.L. Wilkinson founded and owned the Kansas City Monarchs from 1920 to 1949 and some of the players who played for him included Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige, Buck O’Neil, Newt Allen, Cool Papa Bell, Elston Howard, Ernie Banks and a host of other exceptional black players.
Because of his contributions to professional baseball, specifically the Negro Leagues, and his invention of “night baseball,” among other accomplishments, Wilkinson is a candidate for the Baseball Hall of Fame, with a committee of 12 set to vote on the finalists February 27. . . . [more]

photo courtesy Outoftheshadows.net

Ask a Negro Leaguer Column by Prince Joe Henry


Riverfront Times, MO | Hey Joe: As far as you know, are the Negro Leagues and Major League Baseball working together to help promote Negro League history? --Mike Spatz, Ellicott City, Maryland

Nationally, the only source I am aware of that currently promotes Negro League History is the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Had not for it, I am almost positive that the history displayed there wouldn't be available elsewhere. The only time Major League Baseball promotes the Negro League is when a former player — after having been denied the opportunity of performing in the white baseball league — is inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, which I regard as tokenism. . . . [ more ]

photo of Joe Henry by Jennifer Silverberg / Special to ESPN.com


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

`Wonderful Willie' Smith, Former Negro Leaguer, dies at 66

The Associated Press ANNISTON, Ala | Willie Smith, first a pitcher and then a hitter in nine years in the major leagues, has died of an apparent heart attack. He was 66.

Smith, who died Monday, began in the Negro Leagues and played for five clubs in the majors, beginning as a left-handed pitcher in 1963 with the Detroit Tigers. Nicknamed "Wonderful Willie," he also pitched in 1964 for the California Angels, where he went 1-4 with a 2.84 ERA; that same year the Angels put him in the field and he batted .301 with 11 homers and 51 RBIs.

An outfielder and first baseman, Smith also played for the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds. . . . [more]

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

James Weldon Johnson honored; was first Negro Leagues curve ball sensation


James Weldon Johnson, the entertainer, poet, diplomat, essayist and civil rights activist, was also the first Negro Leagues player to master the curve ball. He played for the Cuban Giants before embarking on his remarkable other careers.

Several passages from his essays, including "Watching the White Man Play," "Under the Dome of the Capitol" and "Comment Here and There," were read during the annual MLK day events in Sheffield, Massachusetts yesterday. Johnson's composition "Lift Every Voice and Sing", which he wrote in 1900 was also sung. [more]

photo courtesy University of Virginia

Baseball History and Negro Leagues focus of art exhibit opening in Los Angeles

The Baseball Reliquary presents WINTER BALL, an exhibition of baseball-inspired artworks, from February 6-March 4, 2006 at the DaVinci Gallery in Los Angeles.

The show feature Southern California artist Ben Sakoguchi's "Orange Crate Label Series: The Unauthorized History of Baseball in 100-odd Paintings," a monumental undertaking and certainly one of the most important baseball artworks ever created. Sakoguchi's paintings span the entire history of the national pastime and comment on the evolution of baseball and its relationship to American culture, including issues of race, ethnicity, and gender; patriotism, politics, and foreign affairs; labor-management conflicts and economic inequalities; and the effect of steroids on the modern game. In addition, the gallery will feature paintings and mixed-media works by Michael Guccione, Greg Jezewski, and Curtis Wright. The exhibition is curated by La Monte Westmoreland.

A reception will be held on Wednesday, February 8 from noon to 3:00 PM. The Da Vinci Gallery is located on the campus of Los Angeles City College, 855 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, California. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, and Monday through Thursday from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. For additional information, phone the Da Vinci Gallery at (323) 953-4000 ext. 2518 or the Baseball Reliquary at (626) 791-7647.

The Baseball Reliquary is a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the context of baseball history and to exploring the national pastime’s unparalleled creative possibilities. The Baseball Reliquary gladly accepts the donation of artworks and objects of historic content, provided their authenticity is well documented. The Baseball Reliquary is supported in part by a grant from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

artwork courtesy BenSakoguchi.com

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Honors Roadway Express for Ongoing Partnership

AKRON, Ohio, Jan. 16 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Roadway Express was honored by The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) with the inaugural Chairman's Recognition Award. The award, presented by NLBM Board President Mark Bryant, acknowledges the ongoing work of Roadway Express in developing, presenting and transporting the first mobile museum dedicated to Negro Leagues Baseball. Roadway Express President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Smid accepted the
award.
"All of us at Roadway are very proud of our partnership with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and excited about our continuing role in helping to share the unique and powerful story of Negro Leagues Baseball, its players, teams and coaches," said Smid. "We are looking forward to a great tour in 2006."
"The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is proud of its partnership with Roadway Express," said Bob Kendrick, Director of Marketing for the NLBM. "We thank Roadway for its belief in the importance of the Negro Leagues and for introducing a vast audience to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum through this historic barnstorming tour."
In 2005, Roadway introduced the first-ever mobile museum dedicated to
Negro Leagues Baseball.... [more

Byron Motley to disuss Negro Leauges and upcoming television documentary in Batesville, Arkansas

Wil Shane, Lyon College News Bureau
Published Monday January 16, 2006 Guardonline.com

Leroy “Satchel” Paige was such a gifted and feared pitcher that when he finally made it to the Major Leagues, they outlawed all of his pitches; James “Cool Papa” Bell was so fast on his feet that he swore he could turn off the light and be in bed before the room was dark; and Josh Gibson, a catcher with a bodybuilder’s physique, is the only player known to have ever hammered a homerun completely out of Yankee Stadium.

In addition to being world-class baseball players, what these men have in common is that they all made history in the Negro Baseball Leagues.

Singer, filmmaker, lecturer and photographer Byron Motley, son of Negro Leagues chief umpire Bob Motley, will present “The Negro Baseball Leagues: An American Legacy.”

The presentation will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Nucor Auditorium.

Film clips from Motley's upcoming television documentary “Oh, How They Lived — Stories of the Negro Leagues,” will accompany stories about the Negro Leagues’ rich and colorful history.

In addition to having toured as a musician with Barry Manilow, Motley has recorded and performed with such luminaries as Natalie Cole, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Patti Austin, Joe Cocker and the late Peter Allen.

The history of the Negro Leagues is long and rich, but unfortunately it is rarely taught in textbooks.... [ more ]

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Brooklyn Royal Giants Jacket

Highest quality Brooklyn Royal Giants jacket is available in very limited numbers as a special custom order item...made in USA and requires 6 to 8 weeks to produce. [click here for more info]

1939 Homestead Grays in front of their bus

Negro Leagues’ long road to the hall of fame: Black stars who paid dues now await them

By JEFF PASSAN |Kansas City Star| Someday, they told each other. Someday, segregation would die. It was 1971, and as much as they wanted to believe they were equals in the baseball world, Satchel Paige and Monte Irvin saw what was happening.

When Paige was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on June 10 that year, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn announced that Paige would be the first player in the new Negro Leagues wing of the museum.

Separated from the white players again.

The hypocrisy dawned on the Negro Leagues alumni. Only they didn’t fight it. Getting to the major leagues — that was the crusade they needed to win, and they did. Paige and Irvin, friends and contemporaries, allowed outraged newspaper columnists and others with the forums to wage this one.

“The naysayers realized this was bigger than anybody thought it would be,” Irvin said. “They couldn’t deny the fact that this good thing should be done.”

And so it was. Kuhn backtracked a month later and promised an integrated Hall of Fame. Paige joined Cy Young and Walter Johnson, by all accounts his equals on the diamond and now his equals in history.

It wasn’t the first battle to give the Negro Leagues their proper due in the Hall. It would not be the last, either.

Even today, with 17 Negro Leagues standard-bearers enshrined for their accomplishments before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, the Hall is planning perhaps its greatest and most respectful ode: On Feb. 27, it will announce the results of a special election considering the candidacy of 39 Negro Leagues players and executives from 1860 to 1960.

With a $250,000 donation from Major League Baseball, the Hall commissioned a massive study of Negro Leagues games and emerged with revelatory success. Nearly 100 percent of box scores from the 1920s were discovered, and with 90 percent from the ’30s and 50 percent to 70 percent from the ’40s, the Hall has amassed the first accurate database of Negro Leagues statistics.

Now there are numbers to back up the stories told today by Buck O’Neil, the pied piper of the Negro Leagues who is on the ballot, and in days of yore by Paige, the pitcher who won fame with the Kansas City Monarchs.

“Oh, we had men by the hundreds who could have made the big leagues — by the hundreds, not by the fours, twos or threes,” Paige said in his induction speech. “We had a lot of Satchel Paiges out there — men who could throw the ball as hard as me. Ain’t no maybe so about it.”

No more, at least. If the 12 members of the selection committee induct around a dozen players, around 1 percent of the Negro Leagues’ players will be recognized — the same percentage as the major leagues. Equality, finally, from what could be the last group of Negro Leaguers elected to the museum.

“My gut feeling tells me this is it, and I’ve got mixed emotions about it,” said Bob Kendrick, the spokesman for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. “I think everyone on that list of 39 deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. If it was done over a period of time, all those guys would get in... [more]

Friday, January 13, 2006

Baseball? That Ain't Hood

By James Harris, Truthdig. Posted January 3, 2006

African Americans are abandoning baseball in droves in favor of football and basketball. Is the decline of urban baseball a serious crisis?

. . .

It's a warm Saturday in Oakland, Calif., but you couldn't tell by looking at the baseball diamond at the rec center in Sobrante Park. There is only an old man watching a Little League game not being played.

Never mind that just down the street is the birthplace of baseball Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, while a short distance away at Bushrod Park all-time runs and stolen bases leader Rickey Henderson developed his devastating blend of speed and power. In Oakland, the story is the same as in other inner cities: empty playing fields and a declining number of black youths taking interest in America's Pastime.

Morgan and Henderson were part of a wave of black success that peaked in the '70s. Starting, of course, with Jackie Robinson's arrival in the big leagues and the subsequent arrival of Negro Leagues stars like Satchel Paige, a slew of these black heroes inspired the youth.

"African Americans, following their heroes, began filling the ranks of baseball, reaching a high of 175 players on 25 teams in 1975," wrote sports reporter Jake McDonald on BlackAmericaWeb.com. Yet, "since [Hank] Aaron's final [record-setting home run blast in 1976, the faces of African Americans have disappeared steadily. Once upon a time fans looked forward to seeing Mr. October Reggie Jackson come to the plate. Jackson, one of the most colorful players of his era, retired ten years after hitting a record five home runs in the 1977 World Series. Just about every little leaguer, including myself, wanted to be just like Jackson, right down to the shades."

Today, with football and basketball dominated in numbers and star power by black athletes, major league baseball looks more like the MLB of 1960, when Dominicans and Cubans first began flooding into the then mostly white leagues. Today, American-born blacks comprise only 13 percent of the league -- about 90 players-- and the numbers are projected to continue falling as foreign-born Latinos dominate the lineups of most of the best teams.

Some African-American athletes and fans are furious about this decline. At a time when black men continue to be incarcerated in epic numbers. . . [more]

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Rube Foster, Father of the Negro Leagues

Former Monroe Monarchs of the Negro Southern League Considered for Baseball Hall of Fame

Former Monarchs considered for Hall
Brown, Parnell make special ballot
By Paul J. Letlow |The News Star Monroe LA

Two players who starred with the Monroe Monarchs of the Negro Southern League in the early 1930s are among the 39 candidates being considered for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame by a special selection committee next month.

Outfielders Willard "Home Run" Brown and Red Parnell were selected by a screening committee to appear on special Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues ballots for election to the Hall of Fame.

A 12-man selection committee will meet Feb. 27 in Tampa. Thirty people will be on the Negro leagues ballot and nine on the pre-Negro leagues ballot, and to gain election a candidate must receive at least 75 percent of the ballots cast.
Brown, a Shreveport native who joined the Monroe Monarchs in 1934, Brown was one of the most feared hitters in black baseball in the late 1930s and 1940s. He eventually made it to the big leagues in 1947 with the St. Louis Browns when he and Hank Thompson were was signed by Bill Veeck. That same year, Brown became the first black man to ever homer in the American League.

Parnell was a member of the 1932 Monroe Monarchs team that played the Pittsburgh Crawfords in the Negro World Series. He enjoyed a long career that include stints with the Birmingham Black Barons, Nashville Elite Giants, Philadelphia Stars, New York Black Yankees, Pittsburgh Crawfords, New York Cuban Stars and Houston Eagles.

Scott Greer, president of the Monroe Monarchs Historical Foundation, said he and co-founder Jeff Newman are campaigning for the players.

"Jeff and I have both written some of the members of selection committee pushing Willard and Red for inclusion into the Hall," Greer said. "We believe their induction will reinforce the fact that Hall of Fame caliber players made their way through Monroe

and that the Monroe Monarchs played a part in their careers." . . . [more]

Monday, January 09, 2006

Larry Hogan works to set the records straight for the Negro Leagues

STAMFORD CT Larry Hogan says the exploits of Negro Leagues baseball stars barely were mentioned on the sports pages of newspapers he read growing up in Stamford.

But in the early 1970s, after a stint teaching history at Norwalk Catholic High School, Hogan was in Indiana studying for a doctorate in history and read about Negro Leagues players in African-American newspapers of the time.

"The black press was the key source in a very rich way across the entire history of black baseball," said Hogan, 61. "They took great pride in covering it."

Next month, Hogan will help make history. The college professor and Negro Leagues expert will convene with other scholars to elect players, coaches and other figures to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. Of the 260 members of the Hall of Fame, 17 are Negro Leaguers, but a great number more deserve to be remembered, Hogan said.

"We realized as we got further into the subject many, many more players were qualified to be given consideration," he said. "It's been the culmination of about six years of work."

Like his doctoral dissertation on the American black press, much of the research team's work drew on newspapers in black urban communities, including the Amsterdam News, the Chicago Defender and the Black National News Service.

Like its white-only counterpart at the time, the Negro Leagues was split into National and American leagues, each with one division.

The heyday of the Negro Leagues was the 1920s, but after Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color barrier in 1947, more of the best players in the Negro Leagues began to follow him, assuring its eventual demise, Hogan said.

"There were still great teams and players but no longer the same caliber of baseball that had been played," he said.

Hogan, who now lives in Fanwood, N.J., and other scholars formed their research group in 2000 and were selected for a $250,000 contract from the Hall of Fame to complete a comprehensive study of the Negro Leagues from 1860 to 1960, and earmark players and other figures for possible induction, Hogan said.

The result was an 800-page manuscript principally written by Hogan, plus a 3,000-page compilation of players' statistics, culled game by game from news reports and box scores, Hogan said.

On Jan. 31, to coincide with Black History Month, "Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues and the Story of African-American Baseball," a history book mainly written by Hogan, who teaches at Union County College in Cranford, N.J., will be published.

In 1983, Hogan organized a reunion of Negro Leagues players at Union County College. He became friends with some of them, including Monte Irvin, who hit .350 in a 10-year career, and Minnie Minoso, who played several years in the Negro Leagues before a stand-out Major League career in which he collected 1,962 hits.

"There are a whole host of great players and significant players I've come to know as personal friends who were wonderful sources," Hogan said.

Jim Gates, director of the Hall of Fame library, said Hogan's research has made the hall an authority on Negro Leagues baseball. The 800-page reference work and 3,000-page statistical compendium from 1920 to 1954 are available at the hall's library.

"One of the goals we have is to make this facility a centerpiece in the history of black baseball," Gates said. "We wanted to put together a comprehensive narrative about the history of the game off the field and how it interacted with the Afro-American community, which is just as important as on-the-field achievements."

Hogan said he would like to see more Negro League players inducted into the Hall of Fame.

"There are always more people that deserve recognition, so it would be good to remain open to the possibility of further elections," he said.

By Martin B. Cassidy Published January 9 2006 Stamford Advocate

Sunday, January 08, 2006

All-Star linep for annual Smokey Joe Banquet


SAN MARCOS, TEXAS The stars at night will be big and bright at the All Star Baseball Night in Seguin on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006. Five former Major League players and members of the “Black Aces” Fergie Jenkins, Vida Blue, J.R. Richard, Mudcat Grant and Al Downing, plus Negro League Star Cleveland Grant will gather at this year's “Smokey” Joe Williams Scholarship Gala event that will benefit the “Smokey” Joe Williams Memorial Fund Scholarship.

The “Black Aces” are a group of African-American ball players who have pitched 20 wins or more in a single major league season.

The “Smokey” Joe Williams Memorial Fund is a non-profit organization established to honor deserving high school athletes by rewarding them with a scholarship named after Seguin native, “Smokey” Joe Williams.

Williams played in the Negro Leagues from 1905 to 1932. His career highlights included a 1909 shutout of the Leland Giants and a 1919 no-hit victory over Cannonball Redding. In 1914 he recorded 41 wins and 3 losses. In 1952 he was recognized as the greatest pitcher in the history of the Negro Leagues. “Smokey” Joe Williams was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.



The gala will be held at the Seguin Guadalupe County Coliseum and will include free player autographing, a huge sports memorabilia auction, wine & cheese tasting and heavy hors d'oeuvres.

Tickets for this star-studded gala event are $25 and are available at Seguin City Hall, the Seguin Area Chamber of Commerce and KWED/Seguin Daily News. Banquet sponsorships and silent auction donations are also being accepted. For more information, please contact Mark Gretchen (830) 401-2427 or Linda Duncan (830) 401-2320.

Negro Leagues home hosts awards: Star-studded gala features many current and former greats


By Justice B. Hill / MLB.com KANSAS CITY -- Bob Watson found the right words.

Watson, vice president of on-field operations for Major League Baseball, took center stage here Saturday at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and talked about how important it was for men like him to keep the legacy of black baseball alive.

"I started in the game in 1964, and that was just before the civil rights movement," he said. "So I know a lot of the things these guys went through before me."

During his career, Watson has had to fight to keep the doors of Major League Baseball open to men of color. He's been a pioneer in his own right, a trailblazer who has embodied the spirit of Jackie Robinson.

For his contributions to baseball, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum bestowed upon Watson, the first black general manager in baseball history, its highest honor: the Jackie Robinson Lifetime Achievement Award.

Watson was among a dozen Major Leaguers who came to Kansas City for the Sixth Annual Legacy Awards, an event in which the museum paid tribute to baseball's best. The event also honored the history of the game and the contribution of men like Watson.

"When we started the Legacy Awards in 2000, we didn't get a single Major League player to come out," said Bob Kendrick, director of marketing at the museum. "But we stuck to it."

The museum's unwillingness to quit has allowed the Legacy Awards to flourish. Its star-studded gala brought most of the recipients of its awards to Kansas City for the Oscar-like ceremony.

The event saluted players, club executives and people who have given their lives to the national pastime -- on and off the field. The awards were handed out for excellence, and they are colorblind, Kendrick said.

"It would be doing an injustice to the Negro League players not to honor the very best in the game," he said. "That's what we set out to do. So the guys who sit here before you are the crème de la crème."

Among the best in front of baseball fans, museum officials and media here Saturday were Derrek Lee and Michael Young. They won the Buck Leonard Award, a honor that goes to the top hitters in each league.

Two men who were not here, however, were Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez, winners of the Oscar Charleston Award that goes to the best player in each league.

Yet their contributions to the '05 season didn't go ignored. They, too, had their success trumpeted, just as Watson, Lee, Young and reliever Chad Cordero, as well as the rest of the award winners.

In that group was Dave Winfield, the Hall of Fame outfielder. Winfield, a vice president/senior advisor with the Padres, received the John "Buck" O'Neil Award, along with Royals president Dan Glass, for his outstanding support of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

"It's always humbling to come here," Winfield said. "I almost do not know where to start; I don't know what to say."

What he said became a tribute to the league, its legacy and its players.

"Do not let this legacy die," Winfield said. "Let's not forget about these people."

These people are the thousands of black and Latino ballplayers who helped shape black baseball. The museum itself is a tribute to them, too. Its award ceremony ensures that, at least once each year, baseball's spotlight shines on the Negro Leagues and its legion of star players, men who were the forerunners to Winfield, Lee and others.

That's something that Kendrick and museum officials like to see.

"To honor them for their accomplishments," he said, "we elevate the status of the Negro Leagues."

For Kendrick, the Legacy Awards have allowed the museum, its staff and its supporters to build a stronger bridge with Major League Baseball, which he saw as a good thing for both sides. They both have similar missions: to keep the spirit of the game fresh. The two sides can be allies in that purpose, which is what Kendrick is hopeful of.

"So it's good to build these kind of relationships," he said. "That's what the awards give us the opportunity to do."

The other honorees Saturday night were:

• Satchel Paige Award, presented to the top pitchers in the American and National Leagues: Dontrelle Willis, Marlins; and Johan Santana, Twins

• Josh Gibson Award, presented to the NL and AL home run leaders in '05: Andruw Jones, Atlanta Braves; and Rodriguez

• James "Cool Papa" Bell Award, presented to the NL and AL stolen base leaders in '05: Jose Reyes, Mets; and Chone Figgins, Angels

• Andrew "Rube" Foster Award, presented to the NL and AL executives of the year in '05: John Schuerholtz, Braves; and Ken Williams, White Sox

• Charles Isham "C. I." Taylor Award, presented to the NL and AL managers of the year in '05: Bobby Cox, Braves; and Ozzie Guillen, White Sox

• Larry Doby Award, presented to the NL and AL rookies of the year in '05: Ryan Howard, Phillies; and Robinson Cano, Yankees

• Hilton Smith Award, presented to the top relievers in each league: Cordero, Nationals; and Bob Wickman, Indians.

Buck O’Neil in a league of his own


By JEFF PASSAN The Kansas City Star One day, Buck O’Neil will no longer be here, flirting with five women a quarter of his age, touring the country like a roadie, telling yarns long enough to knit a sweater that would warm the world. At the rate he’s going, the 94-year-old O’Neil could very well chug until he’s 150 years old — and still have enough energy to talk up the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, as he did all day Saturday before its annual Legacy Awards ceremony.

“Buck is everything,” spokesman Bob Kendrick said. “But as an organization, we have to start to think about life without Buck O’Neil. In some respects, it’s like the Kansas City Monarchs and Satchel Paige. Without him, they were a good team. With him, they were great. And we have to be prepared when there isn’t a Buck O’Neil running around the country. There won’t be another. So it’s incumbent that we build.”

The awards marked the start of perhaps the museum’s most important year since 1997, when it moved from the Lincoln Building to its current location at 18th and Vine. Thirty-nine former Negro Leagues players, including O’Neil, are on a special ballot for entry into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. If there’s ever a time for the museum to foster its fan base and fortify its coffers, Kendrick believes it’s now, when the Negro Leagues will get a new jolt of buzz.

O’Neil, one of two living players on the ballot along with Minnie Minoso, will star on the talk-show circuit. He’ll wear Negro Leagues gear made by Nike, which recently partnered with the museum and could provide a windfall of merchandising revenue. He’ll raise funds for the new Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center, a $15 million project expected to break ground in late spring at the old Paseo YMCA, where the Negro Leagues were founded. And, in all likelihood, he’ll talk about what it feels like to be a Hall of Famer... [ more ]

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Dave Winfield to be Honored by Negro Leagues Museum

Hall-of-Famer Dave Winfield will receive the Negro Leagues' John "Buck" O'Neil Legacy Award at their 6th Annual Legacy Award Dinner, Saturday, January 7th at the Gem Theater in Kansas City. The award recognizes "outstanding support of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum."

Kansas City, MO (PRWEB) January 6, 2006 -- Hall-of-Famer Dave Winfield will receive the Negro Leagues' John "Buck" O'Neil Legacy Award at their 6th Annual Legacy Award Dinner, Saturday, January 7th at the Gem Theater in Kansas City.

The award, which recognizes "outstanding support of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum," is being given to Winfield, VP/Senior Advisor for the San Diego Padres for establishing the groundbreaking "Salute to the Negro Leagues" held annually in San Diego.

"Dave Winfield and the Padres sent a resounding message that the heritage of the game of baseball should be celebrated," said NLBM executive director Don Motley. "The celebrations in San Diego were the first by a Major League club that had no direct connections to the Negro Leagues -- and other teams have taken notice. The Padres have helped us raise money, consciousness, recognized living players and got the ballpark and community involved."

Winfield, a longtime supporter of the NLBM, recalls playing against former Negro League stars Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, two of the greatest to ever play the game. He also remembers one of the greatest compliments he ever received in his 23-year baseball career: "I had spoken to Satchel Paige once on the phone, but met Buck O'Neil, Cool Papa Bell and a few other Negro League legends at Cooperstown in 1987. As we spoke and traded war stories, I realized that these guys, true pioneers, had never gotten the recognition and accolades they deserved. And they were getting older. My commitment to getting them their proper place in history began back then. I hit a homerun in the exposition game, and was floored when Cool Papa told me, 'Man, you could'a played with us.'"

Winfield continued, "Buck O'Neil has been a friend and an inspiration to me for a long time so I will cherish ths award in his name." [from PRNewswire]

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum set to issue Legacy Awards

By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com KANSAS CITY -- In the beginning, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum was lucky to get one or maybe two award recipients to collect its hardware in person. Now, with the sixth annual Legacy Awards banquet coming up on Saturday night, it's the thing to do for Major League honorees. Dontrelle Willis of the Florida Marlins, Derrek Lee of the Chicago Cubs and Michael Young of the Texas Rangers are among the award winners scheduled to be at the Gem Theater in Kansas City. Others expected include Chone Figgins of the Los Angeles Angels, Bob Wickman of the Cleveland Indians, Chad Cordero of the Washington Nationals and general manager Ken Williams of the world champion Chicago White Sox.

Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals, who could not attend, visited the museum on Tuesday to receive the Oscar Charleston Award as National League Most Valuable Player.

Royals president Dan Glass and Hall of Famer Dave Winfield will receive the Buck O'Neil Award for support of the museum. Because Glass is in Australia on a goodwill trip, assistant general manager Muzzy Jackson will accept the award for him... [ more ]

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