Carter G. Woodson in 1915
February is a good month to celebrate African American History Month. The observation created by Carter G. Woodson in 1915, after he attended a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the U.S. The 1915 celebration lasted for three weeks and included a variety of exhibits depicting the history of African Americans. In response, Woodson founded what is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. In 1924, Woodson’s fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, created “Negro Achievement Week.” In 1926, Woodson’s Association for the Study of African American Life and History designated the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” They chose that week because it encompasses the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass (February 12 and 14, respectively).
In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford officially declared February “Black History Month,” urging the nation to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Each president since then has recognized African American History Month.
The 2020 African American History Month commemorate several important events: this year marks the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment. Passed by Congress February 26, 1869, and ratified February 3, 1870, the 15th amendment to the Constitution granted African American men the right to vote. (This year will also be the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.) It is also the 60th anniversary of the Greensboro sit-ins, an important part of the Civil Rights Movement, which occurred from February to July 1960.
Rube Foster in 1924
More importantly for baseball fans, on February 13th we will mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro National League. On that date in 1920, Rube Foster invited a group of independent African American baseball team owners to a meeting in Kansas City, Missouri. There is more to come as we approach this important anniversary.
In February we also celebrate the birthdays of several Negro Leaguers, including: Hank Aaron (Feb. 5), John Donaldson (Feb. 20), Elston Howard (Feb. 23), and Monte Irvin (Feb. 25).
Happy African American History Month!
Hank Aaron with the Milwaukee Braves in 1960.
My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging. – Hank Aaron
Happy Monday! Hang in there and keep swinging!
Do you remember this commercial from 20 years ago? Still brings a smile to my face:
The other day I was watching “MacGyver” on H&I and was surprised to see Hank Aaron make a guest appearance. I had no idea my favorite player had been on my favorite show!
The episode, “Back from the Dead,” originally aired on October 5, 1987. The episode featured Joe Santos as Jimmy Kendal, a former mob informant now in the witness protection program with a new identity as a minor league baseball manager. With the team getting ready for the playoffs, Santos’ character brings in a professional ballplayer to help the team prepare for the competition. Hank Aaron trots out to the field to face the young pitcher, who, after a pep talk from Santos, strikes him out.
Check out the promo below:
A little over week ago, I began writing about my recent trip to Alabama, where I visited the Negro Southern League Museum and the Mobile BayBears. But that was before the trade deadline, before they traded Jonathan Schoop, another of my favorite Orioles and the other half of the Machado-Schoop bromance. (Obviously, I’m still not over it.)
Today and tomorrow, I’ll finally finish my tale of baseball in Alabama and my visit to the Mobile BayBears, who will be relocating to Madison, AL, in 2020. They’ve done a phenomenal job of preserving baseball history at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile. Not only did they move Hank Aaron’s childhood home from Toulminville, AL, to the stadium grounds, but they have several historical exhibits around the stadium.
For starters, check out the pictures of Hank Aaron’s childhood home:
Throughout the stadium concourse, there are actual stadium seats from current and former baseball stadiums around the country. First, there’s Fulton County Stadium, where Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to break Babe Ruth’s record:
Next, we stumbled upon seats from Wrigley Field, although it’s unclear exactly why they were there:
Finally, there are seats from Milwaukee County Stadium, where Hank Aaron started his career with the Milwaukee Braves and ended it with the Milwaukee Brewers:
Stay tuned for more about the Mobile BayBears tomorrow!
“I never doubted my ability, but when you hear all your life you’re inferior, it makes you wonder if the other guys have something you’ve never seen before. If they do, I’m still looking for it.” – Hank Aaron
As I’ve noted before that Hank Aaron is one of my favorite baseball players for a variety of reason. In honor of Black History Month, here’s a one of my favorite songs about him…
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Henry Aaron’s 714th homerun, here’s the video:
Here are a few articles commemorating the event:
Ever been to Hot Springs, Arkansas? Me neither. But Brooks Robinson has – as well as Babe Ruth, Cool Papa Bell, Walter Johnson, Hank Aaron, Monte Irvin, Jackie Robinson, and other baseball greats. But why Hot Springs? And why Arkansas? A few weeks ago I promised to get back to you on that question. But I had to do more research. You see, I have to admit I used to confuse Hot Springs with Warm Springs (though, in my defense, FDR did visit Hot Springs at least once). But once I heard about the Hot Springs Baseball Trail, I knew I needed to learn more.
Hot Springs, AR, was a Spring Training spot for Major League Baseball, Negro League Baseball, and Minor League Baseball teams in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Chicago White Stockings’ owner Albert Spalding and player/manager Cap Anson decided their players could benefit from the therapeutic springs in the area. Thus, the White Stockings became the first team to conduct Spring Training in Hot Springs in 1886. Between then and 1938, Major League teams from Chicago to Boston trained there. Negro League teams held Spring Training intermittently in Hot Springs from 1928 to 1955, including the 1928 Kansas City Monarchs, the 1930-1931 Homestead Grays, and the 1944 Baltimore Elite Giants. Other Spring Training sites in Arkansas included Little Rock, Hope, and Pine Bluff.
Who knew there was so much baseball history in Arkansas? Obviously not me. I will definitely put these places on my “Baseball To Do” list.
All facts are from http://www.todayinbaseballhistory.com.
July 17: Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak is ended by the Cleveland Indians (1941); Bob Gibson became the second pitcher in MLB history to record 3,000 strikeouts (1974).
July 18: Ambidextrous Louisville pitcher Tony Mullane begins a game against Baltimore pitching right-handed, then switches to his left hand in the fourth inning (1882).
July 19: Cleveland SS Neal Ball makes the first unassisted triple lay in MLB history (1909); Rookie Juan Marichal pitches his first game, a one-hit, 2-0 victory over Philadelphia (1960).
July 20: Brooklyn’s Dazzy Vance strikes out 17 in a 10-inning Dodgers win against Chicago (1925).
July 21: A 24-inning game between the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Athletics ends in a 1-1 tie (1945); Hank Aaron hits his 700th home run (1973).
July 22: The Braves set a MLB record by using five pitchers in the ninth inning in a 5-4 win against St. Louis (1967).
July 23: Harry Stovey of Boston’s Players League team becomes the first player to reach 100 home runs (1890).
Seems like there were a lot of firsts this week in baseball history. (All facts are from http://www.canadianbaseballnews.com/.)
May 15, 1941: Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak begins.
May 16, 1962: Gil Hodges hits the first inside the park home run in New York Mets history.
May 17, 1970: Hank Aaron becomes the ninth major leaguer to reach 3,000 hits.
May 18, 1968: The Washington Senators’ first baseman, Frank Howard, hits his 10th home run of the week.
May 19, 1961: Dan Dobbek hits the first grand slam for the Minnesota Twins at Metropolitan Stadium.
May 20, 1970: Rod Carew becomes the first batter in Minnesota Twins history to hit for the cycle.
May 21, 1966: Hank Aaron hits the first pinch-hit home run in Atlanta Braves franchise history.
Let’s make some more baseball history this week!