Sunday, August 4, 2013

Where is the Hall of Fame for the Negro Baseball Leagues? You won’t find it because it doesn’t exist. Could that be possible especially that we have museums in this country for many different things? What is even more sad is that many of the great athletes are still living but get no recognition for their sportsmanship during the time in baseball history when they filled up the stadiums to everyone’s delight black and white.

There are baseball players out there that are currently being long denied their due fame and at least a pension. Where are the collectible baseball cards from the negro leagues? They don’t exist either. They never made any. It is almost as if these men never even existed. We all know that it was a time when black athletes were banned from playing in the major leagues. So, they performed in relative obscurity in the negro leagues where their achievements went largely unnoticed, hardly paid and sadly undocumented. We all know thy keep stats on every athlete in every sport. Not these guys.

Meanwhile, now we need to thank a young white kid who decided to make the Negro Leagues his hobby and is doing a remarkable job of finding the old guys and finding press releases about them and organizing reunions and most of all giving the athletes their long overdue recognition. He is even proving that some men played for 4 consecutive seasons and are now getting money each month in the form of a pension. Where is Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson shooting off their mouth on this subject? Thank goodness our youth do not see things in black and white. This kid sees in colors, flesh colors that need to be seen again, not buried into obscurity.

Rickwood Field in Birmingham Alabama is the oldest ballpark in America. It is now the place where members of the Negro League have a reunion each year and the place where they used to play. Among the old black men is a young white boy who of course never played with them but they are honored to pose for pictures with him because without the efforts of the young white boy none of those men would be reuniting. It is only their 4th reunion but now the boy has turned 18, no longer a child with an interesting hobby.

His name is Cam Perrin who six years ago started his research and now is the nations best authority and best friend of the Negro Leagues. He was a normal kid from Boston who collected baseball cards like any kid until he noticed that there wasn’t anything anywhere about the guys who played the all black games. Like any inquisitive kid he searched the Internet for clues and even went further and tried to find the people of the names he found and realized these guys knew nothing and had not even newspaper articles describing their fun past playing baseball.

Cam would even call players on the phone asking them questions like if they remembered any of their teammates, where did they live, what positions did they play and when was the last time they spoke to the other teammates. Many guys would hang up on the kids even say people were dead when they weren’t. No one really wants to talk to a teenage white kid they don’t know. They have lived so many years with no one asking anything no one even caring.

His research proved that all the guys had three things in common. None of them had been recognized, they had not stayed in touch with their teammates and they did not have any memorabilia from their years together. Now players like Russell Paterson, a pitcher and outfielder for the Indianapolis Clowns are eternally grateful to this kid for putting them back on the face in America. For finding even information on the first time they signed up for a team.

The Negro Leagues endured for decades even after Jackie Robinson debuted with the Dodgers. It is estimated that about 95% per cent of what happened in the leagues went undocumented. Now there is a Center for Negro League Research which is a race against time since men from that era die off each year with their information and stories. It is a race against time to still find these guys. There are still hundreds of players still living but not found.

Cam Perrin has found about 100 ballplayers. A former outfielder for the Birmingham Black Barings, Frank Marsh, among other players, now receives a pension thanks to the kid notifying Major League Baseball they exist. He is a white kid that shines among the blacks. We need more race stories like this in the press.



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