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

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