“All of these former [Negro Leagues] players have interesting stories to tell. They didn’t have the opportunity. Now they will.” – Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB Executive VP for Baseball Operations, 2008
Does anyone remember MLB’s Negro Leagues Player Draft, which took place on June 5, 2008? According to an article on MLB.com, the draft was “a continuation of baseball’s effort to fix a historical wrong.” (Other efforts undertaken by MLB have included the induction of Negro Leaguers into the Hall of Fame in 2006 and the annual Civil Rights Game). For this “draft,” each MLB team selected a surviving former Negro Leagues player to represent all players who were denied the opportunity to play Major League Baseball.
Interestingly, it took a while to even find any information on this event, which coincided with MLB’s First-Player Draft in 2008. (Not even a Wikipedia page!) I pieced together who was selected in this draft from I variety of sources until eventually I found one article that listed all of the players selected. I never did found a player for the St. Louis Cardinals.
This list of “drafted” players appears below. If anyone has anymore insights or information, please share!
|Bob Mitchell||Arizona Diamondbacks|
|James “Red” Moore||Atlanta Braves|
|Bert Simmons||Baltimore Orioles|
|Jim Colzie||Boston Red Sox|
|Walter Owens||Chicago Cubs|
|Hank Presswood||Chicago White Sox|
|Charlie Davis||Cincinnati Reds|
|Otha “Li’l Catch” Bailey||Cleveland Indians|
|Mack Pride, Jr.||Colorado Rockies|
|Cecil Kaiser||Detroit Tigers|
|Enrique Maroto||Florida Marlins|
|Bill Blair||Houston Astros|
|Ulysses Hollimon||Kansas City Royals|
|Neale “Bobo” Henderson||Los Angeles Angels|
|Andrew Porter||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Joe Scott||Milwaukee Brewers|
|Bill “Lefty” Bell||Minnesota Twins|
|Robert Scott||New York Mets|
|Emilio “Millito” Navarro||New York Yankees|
|Irvin Castille||Oakland Athletics|
|Mahlon Duckett||Philadelphia Phillies|
|James Tillman||Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Walter McCoy||San Diego Padres|
|Carlos Manuel Santiago||San Francisco Giants|
|John “Mule” Miles||Seattle Mariners|
|Walter Lee Gibbons||Tampa Bay Rays|
|Charley Pride||Texas Rangers|
|Harold Gould||Toronto Blue Jays|
|Mamie “Peanut” Johnson||Washington Nationals|
First no-hitter of the season, and he dedicated it to Jose Fernandez and Yordano Ventura!
June is LGBT Pride Month and this year more MLB teams are recognizing LGBT communities with Pride Nights. Eleven teams are hosting Pride or LGBT nights during the month of June, and 5 other teams have already held or plan to hold similar events. That’s 16 teams total, three more than I reported last year and the year before. (Oh – and just in case there’s no presidential proclamation this year regarding LGBT Pride Month, you can see all the previous proclamations at the Library of Congress website, and the archived site for the Obama Administration.)
However, as I stated previously, MLB clubs don’t always advertise their Pride Nights very well. Most teams bury the information on Pride Nights (and other special ticket events) under “Theme Nights” rather than putting them on their promotional schedules. Others make no mention at all of LGBT events, instead relying on local organizations to sponsor and advertise the events. For example, I had no idea that Tigers, Rockies, Mets, or Cubs had any special events until I read about them on Outsports. You can do better MLB.
Nonetheless, below is the calendar of LGBT Pride events at MLB ballparks this year. Note that this will be the first year the Pittsburgh Pirates will be hosting a Pride event, while other teams, like the Washington Nationals, have been doing this for more than a decade.
|21-Apr||San Diego Padres||Out at the Park||San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, San Diego Women’s Chorus and San Diego Pride and Padres staff jointly performed the National Anthem together; special ticket purchase included $5 donation to San Diego Pride.|
|26-May||Miami Marlins||Pride at the Park||Hosted by the Marlins and the Clevelander Marlins Park. Special event ticket included a Pride at the Park trucker hat. Celebrity guests were” Carson Kressley and Chef Art Smith. A portion of the proceeds support the Marlins Foundation in support of local LGBTQ organizations.|
|3-Jun||Detroit Tigers||Tigers Pride Day||Organized by Detroit Regional LGBT Chambers of Commerce – http://www.detroitlgbtchamber.com/|
|6-Jun||Oakland A’s||Pride Night||Special ticket includes an A’s Pride Scarf and admittance to the pregame party on the Westside Patio.|
|9-Jun||Los Angeles Dodgers||LGBT Night||Special guests include: actor Matt Bomer, Billy Bean (Major League Baseball Vice President & Special Assistant to the Commissioner), Brian Pendleton (founder of #ResistMarch), actors Noah Galvin and Guillermo Diaz; and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo (plaintiffs in the landmark case overturning Prop 8 and restoring marriage equality to California). The National Anthem will be performed by actor Dot Marie Jones accompanied by members for the Gay Men’s Chorus and Trans Chorus of Los Angeles.|
|9-Jun||Tampa Bay Rays||Pride Night||Special ticket includes a Rays Pride Tumbler|
|9-Jun||Boston Red Sox||Pride Night||The New Hampshire Gay Men’s Chorus will sing the National Anthem|
|13-Jun||Washington Nationals||Night Out||The Nationals’ 13th Annual Night OUT. Proceeds from ticket sales contribute to Team DC’s Student-Athlete Scholarships, which are awarded each year to local college-bound LGBT student-athletes who, through their role in academics and sports, have enhanced the perception of the LGBT community.|
|16-Jun||Colorado Rockies||LGBT Night||No additional information on the website|
|17-Jun||New York Mets||Pride Night||A portion of the proceeds will benefit the LGBT Network and its Safe Schools Initiative to stop bullying in Long Island and Queens.|
|22-Jun||Seattle Mariners||Pride Night||Hosted by the Seattle Mariners and Greater Seattle Business Association. Tickets include a Pride Night hat.|
|23-Jun||Atlanta Braves||LGBT Night||This is the Braves’ 7th annual LGBT Night. A portion of the proceeds will go to Lost-n-Found Youth, whose mission is to take homeless LGBT youth off the street. Special ticket package also includes a Braves commemorative hat.|
|26-Jun||San Francisco Giants||LGBT Night||The special event ticket package includes a LGBT/Giants scarf. Partial proceeds from each special event ticket will be donated to local non-profits in the LGBT community.|
|2-Jul||Pittsburgh Pirates||Pride Day||This is the Pirates’ first Pride Day; each special ticket includes a special Pirates Pride Day cap.|
|22-Aug||Philadelphia Phillies||Pride Night||The first 1,000 fans to purchase these special tickets receive a coupon for Phillies rainbow socks.|
|3-Sep||Chicago Cubs||Out at Wrigley||This event is not mentioned on the Cubs’ website, but a special website has been created at: http://www.outatwrigley.com/|
Twenty years ago today, Ila Borders broke barriers in baseball when she became the first woman to pitch in a professional minor league baseball game. In 1997, Borders signed with the St. Paul Saints and played in her first game on May 31. Borders was also the first women to receive a college scholarship to play men’s baseball, the first woman to earn a win in college baseball, and the first woman to earn a win in a professional baseball game.
Today Borders is a firefighter and paramedic in Portland, OR, but she still makes time to talk about her experiences in baseball. The St. Paul Saints recently had an Ila Borders bobblehead giveaway to commemorate the 20th anniversary of her first game and her book, Making My Pitch: A Woman’s Baseball Odyssey, was published last month.
Other women’s firsts in baseball include:
- Jackie Mitchell, the first woman to pitch for a minor league team, the Chattanooga Lookouts, in an exhibition game in 1931.
- Toni Stone, the first of three women to play in the Negro Leagues. Stone played for the barnstorming team, the San Francisco Sea Lions, in 1945 before signing with the New Orleans Creoles in 1949. (The other women to play for the Negro Leagues were Mamie Johnson and Connie Morgan.)
- Mamie Johnson, the first woman pitcher in the Negro Leagues. She signed with the Indianapolis Clowns in 1953.
- Eri Yoshida, the first woman drafted by a Japanese professional baseball team. Yoshida signed with the Kobe 9 Cruise of the Kansai Independent Baseball League in 2008.
Happy anniversary, Ila!
Sometimes, with the over-abundance of military days at the ballpark, it becomes easy to overlook the days that are truly deserving of our honor and respect. In fact, many of us have tired of the almost daily renditions of “God Bless America” and military-inspired uniforms at MLB stadiums – to the point where we no longer pay that much attention. However, Memorial Day is one those days that reminds us that there are some things that are bigger and more important than baseball. And when baseball honors such days, it can be truly awe-inspiring.
Memorial Day began as Decoration Day in 1868, after the American Civil War. Today it is a U.S. Federal holiday to honor and remember service members who died while serving in the the U.S. Armed Forces. It is a holiday on which we can relax, enjoy time off from work, and take time to appreciate the freedoms we enjoy because of the sacrifice of others.
This year, MLB and MiLB ballparks across the U.S. will have a variety of activities and remembrances in honor of Memorial Day. For example, more than 100 baseball players will wear Memorial Day-themed cleats from Adidas. The shoes have a small red poppy with a ribbon that says, “Thank you.” There is also a pull-tab on the back of the cleats that states, “Forever Honor.” For those like me that had no idea – red poppies are known as the “remembrance poppy” and are often used to honor military personnel.
Memorial Day weekend also happens to coincide with many youth baseball tournaments, which keeps many families from properly celebrating the holiday. To address that problem, an assistant coach and former Marine in Maryland has ensured that the Chesapeake Classic Baseball Tournament being held in Elkton, MD, honors the day. Plans included a short ceremony with the teams gathering on the main field to honor the men and women who died while serving in the armed forces, members of the 4th Combat Engineer Battalion of the Marine Corps Reserve presenting the colors, the singing of the National Anthem, and current members of the military giving speeches on the meaning of Memorial Day.
However you celebrate Memorial Day, enjoy!
Posted by The Player’s Tribune on Friday: