ARTICLE: Sliding, Squeeze Plays and Stealing Home: The Legacy of Negro Leagues Baseball | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

ARTICLE: Sliding, Squeeze Plays and Stealing Home: The Legacy of Negro Leagues Baseball

ABCNews.com gets kudos from me for this article. Four pages of near perfection. Cool Papa Bell was mentioned at least twice.

It is great to know that a league such as this was able to see the glass as half full and treat people they way they hoped to one day be treated themselves. Some favorite snippets:

1. "Negro Leaguers played the first night games under lights, five years before the major leagues," he said. "They dressed and drove in style and were admired for rising above the challenges of the day and their impoverished start."

2. Also under consideration [for the Baseball Hall of Fame] is J.L. Wilkinson, who owned the Monarchs. "A strong possibility is a white man getting in for his work in the Negro Leagues," Kendrick said. "It has a little bit of irony attached to it. Certainly in my view, Wilkinson should have been in a long time ago."

Effa Manley, female owner of the Newark Eagles, is another candidate. "Again, I think it speaks to how inclusive the Negro Leagues were," Kendrick said. "It was a league born out of segregation, but it was very inclusive. It gave women an opportunity to do things that prior to this in this country they wouldn't have had."

Many Latin Americans also played in the leagues. "It was all, can you play?" he said. "Then you can come over here and play in this league."

3. In his Senate testimony, [Buck] O'Neil described what life was like for the players in the Negro Leagues.

"Because we were black and because it was the early 1900s, we were not allowed to play organized baseball with the white players," he said in his remarks. "Newspaper accounts across the land verify that we played good ball, entertained crowds, fed our families, and proudly lived our separate lives."

But that did not mean they were treated fairly. "As traveling ballplayers," he said, "the Negro Leaguers were often denied food and accommodations after we had entertained thousands of fans, both black and white, with our extraordinary skills and showmanship on the field."

Kansas State University President Jon Wefald, whose essay about the leagues is the basis for the movie in the works by Warner Bros. television, said that although they endured discrimination and inequality, the players of the Negro Leagues were overwhelmingly positive.

"I call them the players of hope," Wefald said. "They knew someday America was going to get better. They knew that the average American was decent and of good will, and they were willing to be patient and they felt good about themselves."

Wefald noted that, despite the hardships, Negro Leaguers were dedicated to the game.

"These players never whined and complained," Wefald said. "These guys just wanted to play ball. And even though they couldn't go from, say, Kansas City to Tulsa [Okla.] and know where they were going to sleep or eat … they didn't play bitter, and they didn't die bitter. They were just great players and outstanding individuals."

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