Monday, February 27, 2006

17 Negro Leagues Hall of Fame Candidates Announced; Minoso and O'Neil Not Elected

ESPN.COM | Effa Manley was among the 17 candidates elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday, becoming the first woman ever to achieve the honor.

The electees include seven Negro leagues players: Ray Brown, Willard Brown, Andy Cooper, Biz Mackey, Mule Suttles, Cristobal Torriente, and Jud Wilson; five pre-Negro leagues players: Frank Grant, Pete Hill, José Méndez, Louis Santop, and Ben Taylor; four Negro leagues executives Effa Manley, Alex Pompez, Cum Posey, and J.L. Wilkinson; and one pre-Negro leagues executive Sol White. Manley, an owner in the Negro leagues, becomes the first woman elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The 17 electees will be honored during ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 30, along with Bruce Sutter, the lone electee from the Baseball Writers' Association of America election announcement in January.

Manley co-owned the Newark Eagles with husband from 1936-1947, handling scheduling, travel, payroll, promotions, contracts and all the other daily details.

Each of the 17 received the necessary 75 percent of the 12-member voting committee to earn election to the Hall of Fame.

Of the 39 people that were considered, Minnie Minoso and John "Buck" O'Neil are the only living candidates, but neither received the call.

"I know that baseball fans have me in their own Hall of Fame -- the one in their hearts," Minoso said in a statement. "That matters more to me than any official recognition. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be, and I am truly honored to be considered. I've given my life to baseball, and the game has given me so much. That's what matters the most to me."

Hall's ranks to swell by 17 after special Negro League election | Seventeen Negro League and pre-Negro League players and executives will join Bruce Sutter on July 30 as inductees to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Each of the 17 received at least 75 percent of the vote in an election by a committee of 12 historians. Among the names is former Newark Eagles owner Effa Manley, who will become the first woman inducted in Cooperstown.

Hall holding Negro leagues election today

Monday, Feb 27, 2006

Craig Muder

COOPERSTOWN — The Baseball Hall of Fame has been honoring Negro League stars on a regular basis for more than 30 years.

But today, the Hall will hold its most complete — and possibly final — Negro and pre-Negro League election. And, thanks to a five-year project commissioned by the Hall of Fame, the 12-person Voting Committee has at its disposal the most comprehensive set of Negro League statistics ever assembled.

The Hall will host a press conference at 2 p.m. today in Tampa to announce the results of their special election. The 39 candidates being considered will need at least 75 percent of the vote — or nine of the 12 voters — to gain election to the Hall. Any candidates elected will be enshrined with Bruce Sutter as the Class of 2006 on July 30 in Cooperstown.

No Negro League player has been elected to the Hall since Hilton Smith in 2001. Following that election, the Hall revamped the Veterans Committee — which had taken on the task of electing Negro Leaguers — and did not include Negro League candidates when the new Veterans Committee was reborn in 2003.

Instead, the Hall commissioned a study of the Negro leagues in 2000 that was completed in 2005.

"Fifty researchers have worked tirelessly for five years on this project," said Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey. "When this study started, only about 20 percent of the statistics were known for the Negro leagues. Now, we have 90 percent of those box scores and statistics."

Most of those stats came from African-American newspapers, which covered the Negro leagues with the same fervor major metro dailies covered big league teams.

But when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the African-American papers switched their focus to the major leagues.

"As a result, we really don't think we'll get the last 10 percent of the stats, because most of them are from 1947 to 1960," Petroskey said. "Those statistics just don't exist.

"But thanks to this study, we now have a very solid foundation to judge players on Hall of Fame worthiness."

In conjunction with the study, the Hall and National Geographic have produced a book called "Shades of Glory", a 100-year narrative from 1860-1960 written by Lawrence Hogan — a member of the 12-person voting committee. Ten other members of the committee will also be on hand this weekend, while Bob Peterson — author of the landmark Negro leagues book "Only The Ball Was White" — submitted his ballot in writing before passing away on Feb. 11.

Among the 39 candidates, only Buck O'Neil and Minnie Minoso are alive. The last living Negro leaguer to be elected to the Hall was Ray Dandridge in 1987.

"We didn't want to wait another day to have worthy Negro League candidates elected, inducted and have their plaque on the wall in Cooperstown," said Petroskey, who thinks that the scope of this Negro leagues election could make future elections unnecessary. "That doesn't mean we won't have more information down the road, but our goal is that this is an election where all Negro leaguers that should be in are now part of the Hall of Fame.

"I think this is one of the greatest things we've done in our history, and I think our induction class will be one of the greatest classes ever." [ full story ]

Monday, February 20, 2006

Willie Mays to Attend Black Barons Reunion in Birmingham

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Nobody knows for sure when Barry Bonds will arrive in camp, although his legendary godfather, Willie Mays, guessed Saturday when it would happen: "Monday, I think."

That would make sense, since Monday is the reporting date for Giants position players. Several already have arrived, including outfielders Jason Ellison, Todd Linden, Adam Shabala and Dan Ortmeier, first baseman Lance Niekro, infielder Kevin Frandsen of San Jose and World Baseball Classic participants Omar Vizquel, Randy Winn and Angel Chavez.

Mays, beginning his annual spring-training visit, will leave next week to attend a couple of Black History Month functions. One is a benefit in Birmingham, Ala., featuring the five surviving members of the Birmingham Black Barons from the Negro League. Mays will be joined by a pitcher he identified only as "Sammy C.," along with right-hander Bill Greason, shortstop Artie Wilson and outfielder Jimmy Zapp. Mays said that the daughter of Lorenzo "Piper" Davis, the player/manager who signed him for the Black Barons, also will attend. [full story]

Nike to Launch Negro Leagues Apparel Line April 1

Beaverton, Ore. - U.S. Newswire - infoZine - The new line of urban sportswear showcases six legendary teams of the Negro Baseball Leagues: Chicago American Giants, Kansas City Monarchs, New York Cubans, Homestead Grays, Memphis Red Sox and Philadelphia Stars. The apparel was created in conjunction with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) to pay homage to the extraordinary athletic ability and indomitable spirit of these players. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the apparel will go to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

Apparel evoking the spirit of Chicago American Giants, Kansas City Monarchs, and New York Cubans will be available beginning February 8 online at and at Niketown, as well as select stores throughout the country. On April 1, apparel celebrating the Homestead Grays, the Memphis Red Sox and the Philadelphia Stars will be in stores.

Nike previewed select from the Untold Truth Collection at the Helen Mills Theater in New York last month. . . .[]

"Only the Ball Was White" Author Robert W. Peterson Dies at 80

February 20, 2006 | OBITUARIES
By Jon Thurber, Times Staff Writer

Robert W. Peterson, a former newspaper editor who shed light on a little-known aspect of baseball history with his seminal book on the sport's Negro Leagues, "Only the Ball Was White," has died. He was 80.

Peterson, who had lung cancer and emphysema, died of a heart attack Feb. 11 at a hospital near Allentown, Pa., according to his wife, Peggy.

Published in 1970, "Only the Ball Was White" was the first detailed accounting of Negro baseball. As both an oral history by the players and an accounting of the glory and despair of their times, the book was like no other.

One day a team might be playing before a huge crowd made up of fans of all colors at Yankee Stadium, the book related. A few days later the same team might be on a bus in the countryside, the players broke and looking for a game to earn gas money.

This was part of American life for decades until 1951, when the Negro Leagues finally went out of business after the integration of baseball's major leagues. Through much of that time an unofficial — but firm — color barrier kept blacks from playing in the majors. Jackie Robinson broke that barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

"It isn't possible to exaggerate how important that book is," said Lawrence Hogan, a professor of history at Union County College in Cranford, N.J., who is also a leading expert on the Negro Leagues. "When you start [investigating] the Negro Leagues, you start with Bob's book."

Jim Gates, the library director at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., agreed: "His book is among the top 10 ever written [on baseball], the key that unlocked the door to a missing piece in baseball history." . . . [full story]

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Atlanta TV Station Profiles Bill Lucas during Black History Month; was first African-American general manager in baseball

WXIA-TV ATLANTA | Reported By: Clarence Reynolds The phrase “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” carries special meaning in this February’s celebration of black history for one notable figure who went from Negro League baseball player to calling the shots in the front office of Major League Baseball.

11Alive’s Black History Spotlight shines on Bill Lucas.

In the business, surrounded by well-known people with giant footsteps, Lucas left his own mark by managing to keep his signature sense of humor. Called “Bill” by his friends, Lucas made history when he was named director of player personnel for the Atlanta Braves in 1976.

“My father was the first African-American general manager in baseball and it was an amazing feat at the time,” said his daughter, Wonya Lucas, who survives him. “Little did he know it’d be many years before there’d be another African-American general manager.

“And, I remember when Ted Turner bought and, sort of, brought in the new team, and I think that my father played a very key role in helping both Ted and many members of his organization understand those.”

It was a great earned respect from the entire Negro League that led Lucas to do something that would change the life of one of the league’s best players.

“My father was very instrumental in helping [Leroy] Satchel Page secure a pension. But, they also shared the past of the effects of segregation and the inability to truly compete in a world where all was fair,” Wonya said.

“And, I think my father had respect for the Negro League players because of everything they had gone through. And, really because they set the stage for people like him…and for other great players in the future.”

Armed with a wicked sense of humor, Lucas also left a legacy of caring for the community.

Wonya said, “The one thing I remember so clearly is how many people, of any person they would talk about, how engaged my father was with people, no matter where they were in the organization. If you were the groundskeeper, my father knew you, he knew the family, he knew your life, he was interested in you.”

Atlanta paid one last tribute to Lucas by naming a stretch of road in his honor. [click here for full story]

Peoria, Illinois: Library to Present Program about Ernest Westfield, All Star Negro Leagues Pitcher

PEKIN - A program on Ernest Westfield, a pitcher in the Negro League, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Pekin Public Library to honor Black History Month.

During his time playing in the Chicago Cubs' farm system, Westfield played against 34 future Major League ballplayers. He also was starting pitcher at Chicago's Comiskey Park in the last East-West All-Star Game in 1960.

Now retired, Westfield lives in Champaign and travels to give lectures about the Negro League.

The program is free and open to the public. [click here for full story]

Eau Claire, Wisconsin: Former Negro League player Dennis Biddle to Speak Feb. 22

Black History Month speaker: Former Negro League player Dennis Biddle will give a presentation, "Experiences in Negro League Baseball," at 1 p.m. Feb. 22 in Davies Theater at UW-Eau Claire. Admission is free.

Sliding, Squeeze Plays and Stealing Home: The Legacy of Negro Leagues Baseball: From Satchel Paige to Jackie Robinson, Players Wowed the Crowds

Feb. 15, 2006 — John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil, former first baseman with the Negro Leagues' Kansas City Monarchs, is working the room like a pro. Men get a firm handshake and a "lookin' good." But the ladies — all the ladies — are greeted with a huge smile and equally big hug.

And why not? How many people can claim his baseball credentials? Four seasons hitting .300-plus, a league-leading .353 average in 1946, followed by a career-best .358 the next season. The first black coach in the major leagues, leading the Chicago Cubs starting in 1962. Credited with signing Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Lou Brock. A scout with the Kansas City Royals who was named Midwest Scout of the Year in 1998. Current chairman of the board of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and unofficial ambassador of the leagues' history.

O'Neil is excited to be in New York promoting a new line of Negro Leagues shoes and apparel by Nike. He's equally enthusiastic about playing golf back home in Kansas City, Mo., during a fluke 60-degree January day.

And one other thing — he's 94. . . [click here for full story]

Friday, February 10, 2006

"For The Love Of The Game" to premiere April 2006

A new film explores the baseball industry, Latin America, Negro Baseball, and its effects on America today. Destiny International Films presents the motion picture "For The Love Of The Game," a film project highlighting Negro League Baseball. The film will provide audiences with a modern depiction of Negro & Latin players' excitement, highlights, and hardships via subtle innuendos throughout the film. Featuring award-winning jazz artists Tito Puente Jr. and Irvin Mayfield, the film's authenticity about the era provides audiences with a modern replica on an exciting era, not a documentary. Screenwriter and Director Bernard Bailey said, "Our goal is to introduce a younger generation to an exciting piece of American history while maintaining an entertaining film that a younger audience can appreciate. Overall our film will give mature audiences fond memories of an era almost forgotten."

Logline: In the postwar US they played hard, they had fun, they struggled, and they enjoyed the love of the game. An in-depth, comical film about the lives of key Negro league players, how it all began, the highlights, mishaps, and interest of life in this pivotal era of baseball history. Sit, and relax, while an all-star, talented cast opens our hearts and minds to the life, love, and insights of a group of men that gave their money, time, strengths and hearts For The Love Of The Game.

With the strong presence of Major League Baseball's Latin baseball players, the film's distribution will cover Central and Latin American countries simultaneously upon its North American release. Son of Latin Jazz great Tito Puente gives an emotional performance depicting the journey experienced by Latin baseball players on American soil. While Grammy- nominated New Orleans jazz great Irvin Mayfield provides a 4-star performance for his role as a motivated and determined young baseball player. Marketing Director Justin Proctor said, "Our film represents a piece of American history while offering non-traditional distributors an opportunity to broaden and diversify their entertainment selections for viewers." It's obvious the soundtrack will be worth a listen to on your iPod, bringing in an exciting combination of jazz, a slight change for the youth. Of note film contributors include Jordan Brand, Apple, and Budweiser. The film's scheduled release date for both theater and DVD is set for April 7th, 2006.

96 minute feature - 35 mm

Inquiries or comments may be emailed to or contact 877-284-5690.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Clarence "Fats" Jenkins: pre-Negro Leagues Baseball Hall of Fame Nominee

In advance of the Hall of Fame election for the Negro leagues and pre-Negro leagues eras to be held on Feb. 27, is releasing bios of the 39 candidates exclusively online.

Fats Jenkins
, a quick leadoff batter.
Born: January 10, 1898, in New York, N.Y.
Died: Dec. 6, 1968, in Philadelphia, Pa.
Batted: Left Threw: Left Height: 5'7" Weight: 180 lbs.

A widely-traveled player, probably best known for his years with the New York Black Yankees in the 1930s, his career included stints with many of the great eastern black teams of the 1920s and 1930s, including the New York Lincoln Giants, New York Bacharach Giants, Harrisburg Giants, Hilldale Daisies, Baltimore Black Sox, New York Harlem Stars, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Brooklyn Eagles, Brooklyn Royal Giants and Philadelphia Stars.

[full bio plus other Hall of Fame Negro Leagues nominee bios at]

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Book Review: 'Shades of Glory' by Larry Hogan

Recalling the glory days of black baseball: Once overlooked by history, the Negro Leagues are now widely celebrated.

Seldom-told stories and histories highlight new Negro Leagues exhibit in Virginia

| Richmond.comThis January was Richmond's 10th-warmest in city history, according to the National Weather Service. Players featured in the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Central Virginia's exhibit on the Negro Leagues would call that baseball weather.

And rest assured, there will be no rain delays at the museum's most recent exhibit, which opens today in correlation with Black History Month. It will remain open through October.

The display, entitled "Barnstorming: The Negro Leagues, 1920-1960", features signed baseballs, bats and photos from popular major league players who played in the Negro Leagues such as Ernie Banks and Hank Aaron, as well as Negro League stars that never made the move, such as Buck O'Neil and Monte Irvin, the last surviving Negro League player named to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

'Barnstorming' was a term used to describe the scurrying of townspeople when one of 16 Negro League teams would come to town. The locals would rush to throw together a pick-up team to face the visiting team.

Kernels of history like this are scattered throughout the exhibit.

"Black history is not just important in February; it should be taught and learned throughout the year," said Yvonne Carter Hopkins, the curator and main contributor to the showcase.

Her daughter is a seventh-grade English teacher and they have worked with the school district to plan history sessions where local Negro League players would come in and share stories from their playing days.

[full story]