thumbnail of Baseball: A Little Known Chapter
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Playing baseball before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1987 was no easy job. African-Americans were excluded from playing major league baseball especially during the reign of Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis and even after Robinson's history making move to the majors segregation was still part of society overall. Negro League players faced a lot of hardships but that didn't keep these men from playing and enjoying a game they dearly loved. Good evening I'm Mark aini. This is baseball a little known chapter. I've had the pleasure of interviewing several of the players from the days of the Negro Leagues and I'd like to share their stories with you. Let's start with Chris acus with the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum who tells us it was a chapter of baseball history that had a huge impact on the sport. Well certainly the infusion of African-American talent into baseball gave the game a new feel. It was tapping into an entire talent pool that had been ignored. In you can sort of see the teams that really embraced it the faster they embraced it the smarter they were about the players that they picked. Their ability to scout players and bring them up. The
more success they had. So there's no question from that standpoint it impacted the way the game was played. I think also as we see today baseball is global and teams are looking anywhere and everywhere for talent and to kind of use in the Negro Leagues as a microcosm of this giant group that was ignored. Now no one's ignored. We learn from that mistake so you know if you're playing in Korea we'll bring you here. Major League teams are not at all discriminatory about where they're going to look for talent if you can help us win. We want you. And I think the success of players coming out of the Negro Leagues and of course the ongoing success of African-Americans in baseball and all sports kind of symbolizes that lesson. There was a team in Dayton the Marcos Cincinnati had I think it's had several negro league teams in the years particularly the clowns in the tigers. But finding anything about these teams is really hard. That's correct. A lot of that has to do with how they were documented at the time. Most major newspapers did not give a lot of coverage to these teams when they were in existence. There was
considerable coverage in African-American papers in the cities these teams played in but they also weren't terribly organized through long stretches of their history. When we think of baseball we think of the American League in the National League and it's all very well organized and documented internally but for Negro League teams it was a much looser structure and that made it more difficult really to track what these guys were doing and when leagues came and went frequently teams came and went frequently players regularly jumped from one team to the next. So that lack of structure I think complicates our ability to go back and sort of reconstruct in detail what those leagues were all about in those teams. And when they barnstormed which was you know a lot of their schedule was filled by just touring the country kind of taking on all comers rather than playing in a real strict league environment. They would draw big crowds. They would go to small towns they would draw a crowd so lots and lots of people saw these guys play to be sure. And I think they put an emphasis on showmanship as well because some of the teams like the Indianapolis Clowns were actually.
I guess for lack of a better word they were a stunt team. They certainly made an effort to incorporate those kinds of thing some teams more than others in their play. You mention the clowns and goose Tatum is probably the most well known player to come from the clowns and he went on to much greater fame with the Harlem Globetrotters and a lot of the bits that we now associate with the Globetrotters were stadium innovations and he started those as a member of the clowns and they would do these things during the games they would do these things in between innings. And it was a much more relaxed atmosphere. I don't mean to keep contrasting it with Major League Baseball but if you think of how regimented a major league game is and all the rules governing virtually everything that a player does while he's on the field there wasn't that kind of regimentation in the Negro leagues which gave fans a very different experience when they went to see these teams play they saw a great baseball in extraordinarily talented baseball players but they also got a lot more for their money sometimes too. I heard one of the stunts for instance might be somebody is reading a newspaper in the outfield ball gets hit his way and I guess he had some way of looking over the newspaper throw and it would be OK here comes a point.
Catch the ball as it comes in. And they did things like that. Absolutely. Josh Gibson who is arguably he was referred to as a black Babe Ruth at the time. You know so just giving an idea that these guys certainly were known because there were parallels made between players in the established major leagues and players in the Negro Leagues will give some was called The Black Babe Ruth and everyone who ever saw him play considered him to be every bit the power hitter that Ruth ever was. Legend has it that he had the longest ball ever hit at Crosley Field clear over the laundry building in left field and no one can ever remember anyone hitting a ball like that besides Gibson. One player told me another difference was the game was played at a faster pace as well. A lot more stealing lot more emphasis on precision throwing in that kind of thing. Right there are stories that go around about what white players thought of Negro League games when they saw them. And in one instance a player watched a Negro League game unfold during the offseason and he approached one of the players after the game and said Boy it's really amazing how you guys do that you don't do a thing like that when
you play in your season do you in. The response was Well sure how do you guys play. You know so it was it was a very different approach to the game. We see some of those changes happening when baseball finally integrates and we see that the game started incorporating those elements that these players grew up playing in the Negro Leagues and it really improved the quality of Major League Baseball. Exponentially. So it was a wonderful thing when those facets started to come into play. Who were some of the prominent players from the Negro Leagues of course Satchel Paige is a name that often comes to mind and you've mentioned some other players as well. Satchel Paige is probably the best known to be sure. Josh Gibson also mentioning the parallels between players in the Negro Leagues and the major leagues. A guy by the name of John Henry Lloyd was a shortstop who was called The Black Wagner drawing comparisons to Honus Wagner and Wagner had a great quote about Lloyd when he was told that he was referred to as a black Wagner. He said that he was honored that Lloyd would
paraphrasing here but the void would be associated with him in that way so he was turning it around saying that from what he knew avoided what he had seen of Lloyd. Lloyd was the better player many people would say that Lloyd was the best player to come out of the Negro Leagues and belongs on any old time team you ever decide to put together. There's a gentleman who brought a businesslike attitude to the Negro Leagues that kind of gel them together for a long stretch. Probably Rube Fawcett Foster thank you. Foster It was a tremendous pitcher and he saw a business opportunity behind and he was responsible for the formation of the first a league that lasted the first attempt at it all Negro League goes all the way back to 1887 and that's a Cincinnati tie that one of the charter members of this league that unfortunately only lasted a couple of weeks was a team here in town called the Cincinnati browns and it was the League of colored players I believe is what it was called. It didn't last it fell apart quickly in there a couple of other attempts at creating some kind of structure for all these teams. But Ruth Foster in Kansas City in one thousand
twenty originally I think it was going to start one thousand twenty one but they got a jump on it sat down created a charter for a league that became the first version of the Negro National League. And it was around for about a dozen years and sadly his death precipitated its demise. Really he ran the league was something of an iron fist in all the power was kind of consolidated under him but he made sure the teams that were struggling get the money they needed to keep going. He settled all League disputes he really helped to eliminate players in the contract jumping which really was a big problem for continuity sake. A lot of times teams were inclined not to adhere to a schedule he was adamant about putting a schedule together and teams actually fulfilling that schedule. So he really deservedly so is considered the father of Negro Leagues. But he contracted mental illness debilitating mental illness and wound up dying at one thousand twenty six thousand twenty seven and shortly thereafter without his presence the league didn't have enough infrastructure strength to survive. So it passed on but in another version of the league emerged a couple years after its last year the
version that emerged after that it lasted into what the late 40s early 50s. Yeah there were two other leagues that came about. The second Negro national league I believe started in 1033 and I want to say that it went into one thousand nine hundred forty nine The Negro American League that formed in 1937 of which the Tigers were a charter member. That actually lasted until 1960. So that was the last formal Negro League in existence. It outlived the second version of the Negro National League. And I guess because baseball started to integrate there was less and less of a need for a separate league at that point. One of the prime culprits behind the segregation of baseball was Kennesaw Mountain Landis who became a baseball commissioner in one thousand twenty. And as he always was quick to point out there was nothing written that prohibited any team from signing a black baseball player. There was absolutely nothing to prevent that but he said that if major league teams began that practice that it would have the effect of
destroying the Negro Leagues. And he was using it as a defense against the practice. But as it turns out he was right because once the major leagues began to integrate and understandably so all of the best players began migrating toward the better money the better competition associated with Major League Baseball the greater visibility the attraction that was the Negro Leagues gradually waned because now if you wanted to see the best players you went to see the Major Leagues because there was a segregated era players in the Negro Leagues faced a lot of difficulty and traveling finding lodging finding places to eat. Absolutely. So many of the stories that we hear now about what it was like for players like Jackie Robinson facing that kind of discrimination is the Dodgers moved around the country not being able to stay in the same hotel that kind of thing. These teams face the very same thing going from city to city they would struggle sometimes to find a place that would feed them. They would have to find a black restaurant to go to and sometimes it could be a long wait. You know on a bus as you're riding riding riding being turned down again and again everything you've ever heard about segregation certainly
applied to these players they weren't given special treatment because they happen to be baseball players even if they were baseball players of some renown. And this actually led a number of them to play in Mexico. Mexico was much more receptive. They didn't draw the same kind of racial lines that were drawn here and players that went to Mexico. They got to stay in the best hotels with the team they got to enjoy sort of that feeling of being a big league baseball player they weren't stigmatized in any way and that certainly had a jarring effect on them to realize that you know you can go somewhere else and be paid to play baseball and be treated fairly. And you can when you go home. Now. Right. Would you. If you're right. God no. Not. I mean. Charlie Davis had an interesting nickname that his baseball roommate and country singer Charlie Pride gave him
that nickname was whip because he whipped a lot of teams in his days as a pitcher for the Memphis Red Sox in the early 1950s. Davis who now lives in Cincinnati says one of his best moments was pitching in the East-West All-Star Game when he relieved star pitcher Satchel Paige his baseball career started in 1907 when he played for a team sponsored by Simmons bed spring and mattress in Atlanta. They had two teen you know we couldn't play against away but we worked together. They had a white team in a black thing and we only could play want to know them full of us. You couldn't come see us play as you wish they had a record of how many people in your family and they gave you tickets fav film in your family. So we'd always thought plain lemon glass going to moan full of do you have a lot of fun together. There was no problem but we did it in late. Like why play together. Own same thing. And. We was playin and they let the scouts come in to watch us play. Major league scouts
and a guy from the Negro Leagues there after the game he asked me said hi would you like to play for you live in can you make it money. He said how much you make now. In a dead time of make international now. He looked at the leg. I'm sure you could make it. So I just didn't take the will buy it. Well I do know one of the month he called me every week. Are you coming to spring training are you coming in and out always to know I'm not coming until the last minute. I told him I said well I got never got a place on Team You mean much better ball player and I am of these good eye and he said Well I'll tell you what you do so we call saying use the money and you pay his way and we'll give you the money back when you get in. Well we went to Montgomery Frank Raines where all the playfields were staying and the college is done for. And they had so many players they had scheduled me and him to stay in a motel here.
Well one of those players he tricked me. So he made the worst they can. He's a lefty ass yeah. He's I know you want to meet all of God us yeah I do. Well said. You've seen the damage or will take your room. Do no do that. We row we read about that for years. Well we stayed at the college. If I had a bunk so manage a coal mine to live by all the pitches I want to be ready to hit the field at 6 o'clock in the morning. So now we've got Raymond for you to go we can start the fire for thing I thought oh man I got to eat a lot. They don't wake you whore so I went in to eat bacon and eat and grow corn meal I'm ready by nine o'clock I don't fill up you know I figured out where to go send me home now. When I came to look about for $5 guys and
laying out after 3 o'clock and by the ass of going in and the guys who fell out it they and kids here had to stay and be with the other guy. So that's when Amanda told her now you know you Katie to a lot of foods that you do like it did it make you sick. So the second day they saw my friend home. And when you go let me go home they say where are we going to keep you. So we thank you got a chance. Well a fifth day he told me he said I got 20 some left handed battles. And we want you to stew in the Magister red behind you and see the Magic tell you what to throw the kitchen in the man to have signed. So to get you would know what is coming and some of the young guys will tell dementia tale after this like get upset he gotta tell Willis some friends at home. I would really go home and that's you know my mind. So they broke camp and we went to new role and that was the first time I saw Hank
here. He was down there. The man just said I will pitch you to night and see if you do we'll I will let you go home. Well all I was in Reza going home. Seven of them as I set them up. So then the other guy had told me if the man to come out and I heard hearing on taking up civil does he take his time by getting there say nothing or keep going to vote again in eight didn't he come by took his time. I've watched a live thing you did and he said left you know on your right home said I will take out my brainwashing bridges and the first guy aka soul could throw 9 itself and then later people want to know what he could tone I'm surviving now. So we go back to the hotel I had everything I had to go home. And I read most that tale that's come on I'm ready to take him to the bus station.
So he took bus station Greyhound bus station and he would vote to take it back and have me two dicks not give me your bag. What do you mean he mumbled a he said I know if I let you take your used of all when you think of him back and he took my bait he said that we got taken from you from new all into Atlanta and from Atlanta to vomit hands they say your next gay due date Peter be son involvement ham so I came home and I really don't worry about my clothes I want don't go back you know I had made my mom stay home and the guy asked me that home but he didn't give you that off too so they cut you loose. We have IMO Shelia go involving him so I went to him and you know I had never time about being in condition to play and what I did you know. Well when you get a letter you know you meet a little
girl you really have a good time. So about a third of the sun I can feel for the heart never bowl bound for get at home plate sort of man to get up come out later. He said I feel so far. He said We hear you balling get home early I said well I'll be all right risky. These are no more take Yeah he said you know what you can do. You know between games you know how you can mess around. He said I saw you do it when you went home and he said you know I got to take the game with when you're tired of it you got to get rid of it. And I don't have a problem of it. How old were you when you first started playing Charlie and the gas 16 challenge Prime was 15 and he was the one who nicknamed you whip was a rag. Why was that. Well we know that shout it from a start a ball game. He picks but they manage to never let him start a ball and they literally
see we have probably play an independent team on the money that will have the maybe a Kadhimiya team team that felt we couldn't beat him. They get their own have so much money to play him and we can only play him on Monday called for a league game the rest of me and I have a 17 0 record that year. But time the east west game see that with the first Yeah maybe switch game we have I have 17 in Little Rock. And read child every night he told me that he said every time you go out to you when say man said I will give you a name out of what he sold will save us just like that I was so mean and he said if you win boys used when. And he's teasing me like that and all the pretty girls thought of calling me there and they called it that were there when you played for Memphis playing all over the country tour and we played all over the country. We played him on a Monday night we please roll to feel and but I had a
peach that Thursday night and in Annapolis and my cousin here he came over and picked me and shouted fried it. We cable him stayed until Monday. Like if you will between you'll start on time you can lead a team. And so we came over to his house. Him and his wife prepared breakfast and that was the first time child of Friday every Friday. It was the style of baseball like in the Negro Leagues was it a faster more precise kind of game because that's what I've read it would much face during that time the guy had to stretch over to him and come down on him and stop you know when he had me on by. They change that they may change their cause some guy would get to stay after all today and if you go of he take off and think he could make second base for time you got style and they cool the car and head for guys like that and they start coming to you ways that
they can take a fly. Well France afraid to say Bravo the day I married used. Also he said he used to walk in the guys are you doing here. They were they were the clowns in Murchison who were from Cincinnati and Lee and Eric have three guys I want to day never hit the ball. They make it bounce. They be saved first. You never seen a guy run like and they made you change everything and we were you know we come to our ways and stop. If they get off too far you step off the edge to get back. They were human music. You may play baseball. You bet he did right and I'll be right.
You got it right. Thought you were going to Inquirer sports reporter John. He has a passion for the Negro Leagues. It started 16 years ago when he was doing research for a story that turned into something entirely bigger. Early on he actually was early ninety three thousand nine hundred ninety three different generation I was working on a piece for Black History Month for the Inquirer and it was supposed to be a little 10 inch piece one day that month and turned into a two section special section for Opening Day coverage of 1903 and I met Tom Turner from Georgetown Ohio who played for the Chicago American giants in 1987 became a close friend of his and since then I've just fallen in love with the Negro Leagues and everything about it. You said you met Tom Turner What was your impression of Tom as a player and as a person. Well Tom back then I mean he at the time in 93 was guessing in his late 70s maybe early 80s I believe he's now in his early
90s and. He was a great repository of information for me because he played in 1907 when Jackie Robinson broke in and broke the color line with the Dodgers and the National League. Tom was playing at that time in Chicago so he very much knew what that era was like some of the players I've met sense then played in the Negro Leagues in the early 50s in mid 50s it wasn't quite the same as it was for Tom because he very much felt the sting of racism back then. He was a really good player in the armed forces and World War Two played a lot of baseball in Mexico. And in fact Mexico was where he made his connection to play in the Negro Leagues and Chicago he wanted his daughter to be born in the States so he left Mexico where he was treated very well paid very well and went through a much tougher time of it in the United States especially traveling through the south making his way north Chicago with the American giants in 47. I've been amazed at the attitude they did face a lot of hardships. They did face a lot of
racism and the thing that I always find about them though is that they don't seem bitter about it. They just say hey that was just something we had to overcome to do what we really loved. Is that what you found in talking to. Definitely very much mirrors the attitude I think a lot of us saw with Buck O'Neal the late buckle Neil late great Buck O'Neil on the Ken Burns documentary where he basically said they asked him if they felt he was born too early he said no I was born just the right time because I got to do what I want to do which is play baseball for a living. Baseball like music. I believe most of my life and I looked weeks notorious for me I couldn't believe I was born right on. Come on let's play ball. And Tom term was the same way even though they were excluded from the White major leagues that in look upon it is being something that stunted their life but rather enhanced it because they could speak about the great care of the Negro Leagues when there were some great baseball being played in many cases even better than was played in the American national leagues in the Major League Baseball so
they felt blessed and I think they felt as though their life was better because of it and studying the Negro Leagues and some of the players of that. How important were they to the major leagues themselves. Well I think there were invaluable I think Branch Rickey who is of course the man that signed Jackie Robinson and brought him to the big leagues was very much aware as were a lot of the baseball people that there was no question that a lot of the fellows in the Negro Leagues were major league timber Corps Branch Rickey had a twofold reason for wanting to bring in Jackie Robinson and later Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe was that not only did he feel like he could do something for society by breaking the color line but he felt as though the Dodgers to be could become a real force in the National League. With this influx of black players and more we see you have a right he had such a talent source and all the other teams are just far behind the Dodgers and in fact an American League was far behind the National League and that we had a big reason to do with the National League's domination of the American League in the All-Star Game say in the late 40s and early 50s is that the talent of the Henry Aaron's
and Willie Mays and people like that just dwarf the American league talent because they don't have. And their case access to the Negro Leagues players they didn't choose to go that route and it hurt them actually. Now Cincinnati has history around these teams. There was the Tigers correct. Right the Tigers are my favorite team because he hired harbored the former Olympic champion had a major role in putting together the team for a man named Henry Ferguson who was a hotel operator cab company operator an operator the. Cotton Club and what was then the West End now sense gone because obviously the expressway going through there but diehard Hubbard to me is a true son if you will of Cincinnati. He I think is arguably one of our top 5 greatest athletes of all time great University of Michigan athlete great track star and quite a baseball player and didn't get to play with his team of course but assembled it and has some great connections and put together a team which I've written about quite a bit before that. No doubt in my mind could have beaten the Cincinnati Reds team of nine hundred thirty
six thirty seven There's just no doubt about that. That's interesting you you mention the Reds team of thirty six and thirty seven which I don't think they were too good and they were they were very good they got good and late 38 and then building the wait to 39 40 when they are in the World Series but I've always believed the Tigers team of 36 37 had the greatest compilation of pitching talent ever to come out of the city at one time they had pitchers like Porter Moss just used in part lol. They were great players and some of them won on the pitch for the Pittsburgh teams of the great nigra leagues and they made this a great team here and since any short lived team only a full year in the inaugural season of the Negro American League but were in the minor leagues and 35 and 36 and they don't have a long schedule they might have went about 19 in 10 that season but they would go east and as one of the players told me we go up there and kick butt and take names. Well they only lasted a year. What happened. I think what happened was financially I could afford it was the end of the Great Depression. The
money wasn't there I don't know how deep Henry Ferguson's pockets were he was largely the bankroll for that team and it was just a tough existence they drove a bus that was formerly the possession of a music group called the McKinley cotton pickers. That bus would break down on occasion. They take all the way to New York and New Jersey to play baseball games. And they go down south and play but the money was just hard to come by they later morphed into the Memphis Red Sox which went on to win championships down there in Memphis so those players had a long life they had some great young players in particular and did great things they were a really exciting fun group to watch from when I'm told of some early survivors who saw their team play. Where did the Tigers play their games. They played a lot of their games right across the field. I mean there was another site where they practice I don't know exactly where that was but they would play doubleheaders on Sundays cross the field with a red plate when the Reds went out of town and it was interesting I talked to some Reds players from that 37 38 team who didn't even know that the Tigers
existed I mean literally the team was gone on the road be king of the Reds and they made way for the Negro League team the Tigers to come in and play in the team wore hand-me-down uniforms and it was quite festive occasion when those teams came in to play on the weekends. Big crowds turned out as many as ten or fifteen thousand people was a focal point for the weekend activity for the black community in particular and. As I say they they played some wonderful ball exciting ball and I sure wish I could have been here to see that. Was there any relationship between the sister of tigers and Ruth Foster did he have any connection with them at all. Not that I found I mean arguably he may have. Cincinnati was an early member of the first Negro League I think which Foster was behind I don't remember the name of that team might have been the Cincinnati Cubans and they played here for a short time and then of course after the Tigers there were the Cincinnati Union Atlas clowns and I think Foster probably had some kind of connection with Cincinnati this was such a great
baseball city. They felt they could make it work here about I don't know exactly what that connection was. I think a rube Foster because of his from what I read he had had a pretty good business sense I think it was a turning point for the Negro Leagues. Oh I don't think there's any doubt about it it's guys like him that had a vision of what the new goalies could be. That really made it came to life and living there were great and trepan or was in other cities Pittsburgh in particular. I mentioned Henry Ferguson here in Cincinnati Memphis. Couple of Dr brothers who were instrumental in bringing their team to town and keeping it alive and I think that's why teams lasted longer in certain cities is that there were some black businessman or in some case white businessmen who had deeper pockets and could keep it alive and it was a source of not only a joy and love for the black community if you will but also a source of finances for the for the owners of the teams I think in place especially like Kansas City Memphis Pittsburgh where they drew so well and there was a money making operation in fact in
Cincinnati. I think that was part of the problem was it was a little slower catching on because a POC was born deep enough they couldn't keep it going. On the road. With three tricky riders right here. Let's have a while. Yes yes yes yes. Then. When he saw that the crowd. Wow. Because he knows that I'm with my out. Yes yes. Yeah I get it. That is. Such a joke. Tap on the back door bit. But it's a natural bag. When jacket comes to Baghdad. The teams.
To see exactly. The yes yes yes Jack. Song. Think it right. Yes. Yeah get real.
Ridge. During the 1940s when segregation was prevalent in America some African-American players got a warm welcome south of the border. Such was the case of Thomas Turner who now lives in Georgetown Ohio. Turner came from an athletic family and was involved in baseball football and basketball. After serving in the Army he was invited to play baseball in Mexico where he says the fan enthusiasm was strong. But family matters brought him back to the U.S.. And then I went to Chicago. And a boy that was in the service with me in Pitts was Walter McCoy was the first thing I saw when I walked in Chicago American Giants cap and we went to Jackson Mississippi for spring training and that's where we
spring training and then Ford established and then from there we opened up people in Chicago and then we come to able to open up and catch just said hey that's where our museum is now so here was Walter McCoy the boy that bitch bass bought in this living through Vegas fame game where he was standing tall with Scott go American John. And last year he still are the highlights though he's a cob until he builds homes and still trying to play ball. What's the most memorable thing that ever happened when you were playing in the Negro Leagues you faced a lot of good pitching I think Satchel Paige was even one of them. Yeah Satchel Paige was one straw and a guy by the name of this guy they just allowed to live he was a voice bank one of the gods of their mind X but only if it wasn't for the buck we wouldn't have a museum in
the US think he is the one after he stopped playing baseball got going everywhere get money for just me there and where they built the museum it used to be a nightclub that the big bands would come back and play all night have it but they turned it into a museum and they built a model of diamond and inside of the museum and put bronze figures in each one of the positions and they put names down on the floor right in front of the guide and right across the street from that is the theater and that's where you can see all the old films from around time ago and the Negro League Baseball. And it's something. And bugs still had was that he was he was young date Lol I'll bad two years ago raising money and people would help him. What were some of the other teams you played when you were playing for the Chicago giants who had a lot of team there was Memphis that was but I mean
now that was a clown's. The clowns had two women play and they go ahead. One was the pitcher and out of the bases under second base a lot of the Jets had got ahead of any man you wanted and she was a small woman. I can't remember all the teams but I can tell you the different people 1975 they had us in the segment if you're a fan of voice rate for the new goalie they had two hundred and forty four guys at a rep is that all you need LOL Hey we was there for four days and we didn't do anything when he didn't catalyze we had a good time and all are either a bad group. I think it was about only 6 who wields here guys that couldn't walk out of the flow under his own feet and the last one we had was one day one of the hundred and fifty five guys. That was going to do
and it's more than that now and you look around and you see one die idea one died. Double Duty Arad Korea. He was out of Chicago all his bath he would catch a double header and when another game was died he'd pitch and was good and that's why they gave him that now. He casual in the game and it's like Well speaking of nicknames you were a high pocket Turner man don't tell me about that high pocket because I get letters right now through him for Dad of the day. From all the old Want me to sign these things I signed on to this was from the dawn service and 1943 they set up a cap as a barber. All the wounded soldiers to come back with moles and in order to entertain them they schedule last night's That was the manna was fair is that faster than a bible.
Oh it wasn't anything there but when I go there was a mother. Sisters and brother that's elite I thought that they were all in a big phrase that you know from like a new country right on the Pacific Ocean and I was there with time I go down to foist a bass I was playing plays bass then the women would go and have been away and unfair that the women gave me that Oh well somebody put it on the web. And there I do mean Mr. Thomas found I pop it. I won't put no hype I get on I would just sign my name on it was that two years ago in Chicago with a whole line of us I don't laugh I don't have an everything. She judge anybody what everybody wanted. We do that all day long. When I wouldn't charge anybody anything the other guys did but I wouldn't last well High-Pockets and Kim and I still get these.
Did you really enjoy playing in the Negro Leagues How do you feel about your years there. I got to enjoy playing because I could execute I could play plays bass and I got hit baseball. I'm not buying it any time I walk up Baghdad but I would one hit a ball somewhere I was going to hit about and I knew I was going hit. I was no longer bald headed I only had one home run the whole year evaporate. I had one that was in commits good pot doing that open day and he put I hit one up in a tree and dad I didn't feel that's the only home I had in my diet. I got a dollar a liter lies about that but I would little kid asked me how many home runs a year I didn't make a year and then hold up 20 and or you're way off more than then and I'd let him go ahead then I'd tell him I think you want to really know want to know that he had one who was the best pitcher you ever faced.
Well three of them. But it ruled in such a pledge and why another one. Gadgeteer in mind I exactly get in that time he has the name of a motel and he was good. Sachin would start again and page 3 again and he would come on and page the other things that would be no more entry and Satch pitch bar to me was easy to hear because he had excellent control. I didnt have to die Jean Mowbray IEDs while Doctor and I'll have him thrown it may he was coming then what about. And most times they don't know that I try to get the kids and all that. If there's a pitcher anywhere he want to get his voice page here as you see what I mean. Manager you want you to wait. We didn't wait. We could hit whenever we wanted to hit and we could
steal whenever we wanted to deal we didn't have to wait for steel single at the steel plated lead and hit the bar with a single double. I could do that to interfere but I quit in 1954 because the one thing I struck out for straight time and I knew then it was time me to quit trying to play the record for time. RO that I will be on my playing baseball. Do you miss playing baseball now. Because I wouldn't I quite going on now. I wouldn't I got it I had no sportsmanship and I just got him on. I think right. I've never seen a fight when a whale but I have whether with God lead the way we did. I mean everything in the life I gave just like a family. I
don't really miss it. Gentlemen. We're gathered here today. On a. Satchel Paige. And all and we get. All the speaking. And all the years he played. In the road. Oh my I. Was a. Jim Crow ram again. No one's to blame. Anyway see. Mini road. He's saying three up three down. I'll get you home by dark and any you later want to take me out celebrating nothing. You just come around the dog. Good job. Night. On the ball sub. Got a man.
Driving the bus. That's all you know. You know drug all night through the day they play the game. They. Play. No better than the. Money Warren has seen a lot of things in life. Born in Covington Kentucky he remembers from his childhood the great flood of 1037 when the Ohio River swamps many a town along its banks. His baseball career also covered a lot of ground as he played for the Detroit stars the Indianapolis Clowns and the semiprofessional Cincinnati tigers. He got to watch as the integration of the major leagues brought on the end of the Negro Leagues. He had the good fortune to be drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers but the misfortune to be on a team that was already rich and his infield position shortstop. He found himself stuck behind Pee Wee Reese at the top of the line. Employers like Don Zimmer in between play for a local team here called the Cincinnati
tigers and they were a semi-pro outfit and we played the Negro League ball close that's how I got connected with him. We were in Annapolis and were replaying the clowns at their own of the port of the doubleheader. Sometimes they have double headers when they play one team than another team comes in to play the second game. So we played the second game of bear and I got the attention of a few guys that played with there were clowns and they approached me and asked me did I want to play or professional ball. We were a player semiprofessional but I still had to go to a job and I had a young wife and home you know. But when my job gave out that summer I couldn't find work. That's when I went on the road started playing baseball. Stayed out there for maybe a couple of years. But the only major league teams I would think that interest me was the Negro they both rose because they were more closer to you or they talk with you you know and sometimes if you're lucky you could bat boy form you know
and a lot of guys to try to get down early to make that 50 cents or they could bat Borro day and maybe even get a broken bat. And as Samuel went on things started changing. But. I enjoyed watching the Negro League teams play because they were a lot of joy to watch and I decided that I wanted to play baseball when I get to be a man and never had any idea that the major leagues would be opening to a black man at that point in time you know because if I got to the Negro Leagues I was satisfied. Because that's all I've seen is all I know. And as time went on you know things started looking pretty good. So I just grew up with the idea of baseball was something that I wanted to be in something that I wanted to do. But it took a lot of work. It took a lot of work because majority kids in the neighborhood they could play. They were outstanding players and they played every day you know you had to be good you know and the ones who really cared for the game they went a long way with it. There was a couple guys that I had known personally. They were older men
merging him emotion was one to me play for a team called the clowns in Annapolis clowns. People would think were they clowns don't let that deceive you because they had players on their team. And one of the most outstanding players a game of a team in later years. You wouldn't believe who he was. Hank Aaron people say well you know they had this clown but they had more going for them is force people coming through the gate because they had an act they had King took and in re-emerging even run a horse and had different things for you to do other than watching a doubleheader you know and speaking about double headers you know we saw a double header every Sunday all motion and the go teams come to town. But now if you want to see a double header you got to pay twice to see it now in Major League Baseball you know empty the board and bring you back if you want to go but you just pay maybe a 75 cent to go in the ballpark it's a doubleheader on Sunday you can see both games. No problem at all home games didn't start on a Sunday when I was
playing until after after one o'clock. Simply because you had the church people in church and you wanted to get them to service them so they could come to watch the ball game later on. You can store 11:30 or 12:00 o'clock you know they had stored a want to clock a better so that way if you started at 12 o'clock he would lose a lot of hatred is stored about one o'clock or 1:30 or you know people that went to church they would come to a ballpark guess where an old books you see that a lot of the gaz and a lot of the gentlemen and ladies they were dressed up when they came to the ballpark you know wonder what these people dressed up as almost 90 degrees out here but that was the reason for that you know Street insurers at lower bass would have been everything you know especially that was so true. As for the South was concerned you know because they were ordered to go to church and this is a heritage of Adam and I like going south playing ball because the food was excellent. Just ate home cooked food all the time. But when you come nor if you've got a restaurant you can run into you know enemy knows when bad I mean and it needs good to you when you're
hungry you don't played a doubleheader you might a got an down I have food to eat you know I mean maybe 75 cent or depends on how the money was at the gate. So you try to find something that's going to be very wholesome for you. And most of the time you know you've found a nice restaurant and I like the part about it gave me exposure. When our Went to the ER or Detroit stars and never think that I was see the western side of the camera sphere. I mean of course Cincinnati Kentucky Indiana that sports I ever thought I would ever go you know I'm looking up one day and I'm going into Canada and you know the candidate I'm going across the border as a kid man a young man and you know this was something unheard of you know I know a lot of people live in Detroit they know these things but I live in a wow you know I mean this is almost in the south and so this was very educational as for as I'm concerned the things that I've been taught about in school and gee argosies and things you know and all of a sudden I'm getting a chance to see these things and that was very
good for me because look and we go to sleep at night on the bus you wake up you don't or you are the next day that you wake up what they are always skewed my language. You might be somewhere if you going West sat in Annapolis. Chances are you're going to wind up with the same lures of places Lynette nature your enemy going west. Kansas City I was a stock we had to make and we'd go to Wes's forest to the northwest to the Dakotas and that takes you into Canada. That's the swing that we would normally make twice a year and nor to get back down on the east side of the country. We would go to New York to Canada or back down through New York down to Pennsylvania or some places like at Ghost they had teams in that area where you could play. But it gave me the thrill of my life I was thinking about that not too long ago. And it's funny how key years are today than there were in my era. I think we were always wanted to do something as nothing that was adventure or that something that we could more or less enjoy doing and be able to
tell people that we were proud to do this year. To me baseball was one up and I never had any idea that I was going to be a Negro league ballplayer. I was more or less looking for something else like they had during the war they had the teams that played at home. Phone and you still had a job working in war plants and things like that. You didn't have to travel but you could play on Sundays and thanks to this nature because like Lance sponsor teams so you were doing something you like and right here at home to get your seal eat it to know that somebody thought enough of me to get me a job playing baseball and I got to say I worked hard for. I worked really really hard because she had to because there was only so many jobs and so many spaces on a bus that you could go in and you know to take a seat and get to you know and the guys in my era they wanted to play. They really wanted to play it didn't matter and you know bad weather inclement situations and things like this if they wanted to play. Because baseball is where they love they
feel like yeah I can get on a bus and go over here the darn pretty uniform won't give you lurch here that know me you know and you want to be between the stripes at least idea. He's good good ball player but if I'm not playing that no mean nothing to me I want to play. And then later on in years of Jackie Robinson came up. Then everything started changing then and it was a good deal it was a good thing for everybody because the team started making money because at that point in time they wouldn't get in the clientele as forced by people was concerned. As the Negro Leagues were. But when Jackie Robinson came into the league that changed over. Now they want to see the kids as playing in a major league that is black. So this is something that a wait a minute this is not happening year in not in America but he did. And so all the people who supported the Negro Leagues at the time Jackie Robinson their man now. So every chance they got ever going into major league ballparks watching this bracket play baseball. And so it
kind of grew throughout the whole country. And I got to say and take my hats off to him because had not he made good on the first shot we brought it will never be ready again you know. But he did he was a gentleman a scholar. He had been in service officer. I can't think of anyone else who could have made that other than him. It may have been but he did it and he opened the doors for a lot of people even today. The president we have now Obama. If he had a fear I mean think and maybe Obama would have been president. Maybe in another hundred years you know I mean but that happened like man was going to different teams Milwaukee derivates order teams were getting black personnel so they can feel their parts. And not only that they could play they could really and truly play had just one nobody's going to walk into the bar and say Here I am is me a bat so we can swing I can you play you could play. You had to go in on for you. And majority guessed I came into the major league after Jackie Robson all them was but some
ballplayers they not only could a rough play but they had the temperament to realize the fact what was going on at that point in time. And I take my hat off to him whether I could have done it or not I'm not sure but he did it and I tell you the truth. I'm Aaron Ford really because I don't know if I could have took it if I had only the Lord only knows. But I'd say he destroyed the negro relief suit because they got all the guys there was good off the Negro League right over there you know in Maine and it was no more than right because something had to go well where else could you know when may put that out into the ocean. Definitely not a liberal it's not. My. Mother. Everybody can. See. That an outcome late.
In. Life. Is a long game. Let's. Let's. First place. A lot of the time. Do you. Think you. Can. Make it. Happen. And I get. Back. To my. Life bought. Gas. Is up. For. A moment.
So how important is this chapter of baseball history. John Arathi says it's critical because unless you understand who these guys were you cannot appreciate how far the game has come I mean the game in my mind largely ultimately led this country to its civil rights legislations to its acceptance of if you will African-Americans into the community at large and the Tigers who to some extent played in front of black crowds also played in front of some white fans and I've talked to some most people went to those games and they feel as though you know the Negro Leagues were overlooked in terms of the baseball town being allowed to play in the major leagues they recognized that they were seeing a source. Of talent that wasn't going to be there that much longer they could sense that the time was coming when the blacks would be integrated in the white community and the white major leagues. And to that extent it was almost as though this was a
Baseball: A Little Known Chapter
Producing Organization
Cincinnati Public Radio
Contributing Organization
Cincinnati Public Radio (Cincinnati, Ohio)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/106-31cjt1ck).
This program is about the history of African American players in baseball, specifically in the Negro Leagues. Mark Heyne interviews experts and former Negro League players.
Asset type
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Interviewee: Eckes, Chris
Interviewee: Erardi, John G.
Interviewee: Turner, Thomas
Interviewee: Warren, Ron
Interviewee: Davis, Charlie
Interviewer: Heyne, Mark
Producer: Hay, Lee
Producing Organization: Cincinnati Public Radio
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Cincinnati Public Radio (WGUC-FM, WMUB-FM, WVXU-FM)
Identifier: CPR0545 (WVXU)
Format: CD
Duration: 01:00:00
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Baseball: A Little Known Chapter,” 2009-02-22, Cincinnati Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 20, 2020,
MLA: “Baseball: A Little Known Chapter.” 2009-02-22. Cincinnati Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 20, 2020. <>.
APA: Baseball: A Little Known Chapter. Boston, MA: Cincinnati Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from