Results tagged ‘ Milwaukee Bears ’
Tonight, we are hosting the franchise’s 10th annual Negro Leagues Tribute Game at Miller Park. The Club is honoring the significance of the Negro Leagues and their impact on the game by donning Milwaukee Bears uniforms, the city’s 1923 Negro Leagues representative. The Pirates are also honoring the Negro Leagues by wearing uniforms from the “Pittsburgh Crawfords,” the team that represented the Steel City from 1931 to 1938.
In addition, we honored former players and baseball contributors Gilbert Hernandez Black and James Beckum during a tailgate reception at Helfaer Field this afternoon, along with a special pre-game ceremony.
In honor of the event, Brewers Community Foundation made a donation to both the Negro Leagues Museum and Yesterday’s Negro League Baseball Players Foundation.
In addition, both honorees signed autographs during the first 45 minutes of the game on the Field Level Concourse near home plate.
Gilbert Hernandez Black, known as “Gil,” was born in 1934 in Manhattan, New York. He grew up several blocks away from the famous Polo Grounds and learned to love the game by watching the New York Giants practice. He moved to Stanford in 1950 and played ball for several prominent African-American teams, including the West Palm Beach Indians, a Florida State League affiliate of the Milwaukee Braves and the Indianapolis Clowns. Though he was gifted in many positions, he predominantly pitched in his career.
James Beckum was born in Baltimore, Maryland but has called Milwaukee his home for nearly a half a century. He started his career in the Negro Leagues in 1950, but it was interrupted when he joined the military. Beckum eventually returned and played for the East St. Louis Giants. In 1966 he organized a youth baseball league in Milwaukee called the Beckum-Stapleton Little League. The league is the longest-running inner-city baseball program in the country. There are approximately 350 children who participate in the program and the league fields 25 teams.
Tomorrow, Hernandez Black and Beckum will be inducted into the Yesterday’s Negro League Hall of Fame at the Mother Kathryn Daniels Center (MKDC) located at 3500 W. Mother Daniels Way on the grounds of Milwaukee’s Holy Redeemer Church (COGIC), beginning at 1:45 p.m. The Brewers are once again partnering with the MKDC and the Church as a sponsor of the annual induction ceremonies and other initiatives. This event is open to the public.
In previous years, we’ve honored pitcher/outfielder Ted Toles Jr. and outfielder Nathan “Sonny” Weston (2014); outfielders George Altman and Lonnie Harris (2013); pitcher/utility player Mamie “Peanut” Johnson and outfielder Porter Reed (2012); pitchers Charlie “Whip” Davis and Johnny Washington (2011); pitcher Ollie Brantley and first baseman/outfielder Clinton “Butch” McCord (2010); infielder Harold “Buster” Hair Jr. and catcher James “Jim P” Tillman Sr. (2009); pitcher Eugene ‘Dick’ Scruggs and first baseman James ‘Red’ Moore (2008); and outfielder W. James ‘Jim’ Cobbin and catcher Arthur Hamilton (2007) as they were inducted into the Yesterday’s Negro League Hall of Fame. During the Brewers’ first Negro Leagues Tribute in 2006, Buck O’Neil, James Sanders and Dennis Biddle were each honored.
The Milwaukee Bears, the city’s 1923 representative in the Negro National League, played only one season before disbanding, but featured some of the game’s most influential men, including Hall-of-Fame player/manager John Preston “Pete” Hill.
Fans were able to purchase Milwaukee Bears merchandise prior to the game at Helfaer field. In addition, jerseys and caps worn by the Brewers players and coaches will be authenticated through Major League Baseball’s Authentication Program and were made available for fans to purchase prior to tonight. Jerseys and caps that are not pre-sold will be available for purchase through the Brewers Authentics Department, at the Brewers Authentics Kiosk (located behind Section 111 on game days), or the Brewers Charity Auction scheduled for a later date (Brewers.com/auctions).
Fans interested in purchasing or learning more about pricing and sizing information of jerseys and caps available are encouraged to contact the Brewers Authentics Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (414) 902-4479.
Early this afternoon, I had the pleasure of touring the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) with a group from the Brewers that included Manager Craig Counsell, Bench Coach Jerry Narron, Hitting Coach Darnell Coles, Coach John Shelby, infielder Jason Rogers, Brewers Wives and a few members of the front office.
Our tour guide, Raymond Doswell, led us on the NLBM’s unique tour, which circles a large field, with bronze statues of Negro Leagues greats at each position. One must pass through the exhibits telling the story of the league in order to gain access to the field at the end.
Along the way, our tour guide told us the interesting stories behind the photos and artifacts that we were viewing, such as a ball signed by Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Joe Black, Jim Gilliam and Ty Cobb; a letter regarding an assessment on then-Indianapolis Clown player Henry Aaron; a collection of baseballs autographed by Negro League veterans given to the museum by Geddy Lee (yes, that Geddy Lee, of the band Rush); and a copy of “Satchel’s Rules for a Good Life,” that prompted many to capture a photo.
The Negro Leagues modern structure dates to 1920 when Andrew “Rube” Foster, a former player, manager, and owner for the Chicago American Giants, joined several others to start the Negro National League. Soon, other leagues formed throughout the United States, including Milwaukee in 1923.
In 1947, MLB’s Brooklyn Dodgers brought over Jackie Robinson from the Kansas City Monarchs to become the first African-American in the modern era to play on a Major League roster.
“It’s history, an important part of baseball history,” said Counsell. “I learned a lesson about American history and baseball history. You get a better understanding about how important baseball was in the African American communities in that time period.”
Jason Rogers echoed that sentiment.”I knew some of the history, but I enjoyed learning a lot more about it,” he said. “I liked it a lot. I’m glad I came.”
Here’s a brief interview with Jason about his visit:
Each year, the Club honors the Negro Leagues with a tribute game at Miller Park. As part of the event, the Brewers’ players wear uniforms of the Milwaukee Bears team that played one season in 1923. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, July 18 when the Brewers face the Pirates. More details pertaining to this year’s Negro Leagues Tribute Game will be released leading up to the event, so stay tuned.
A huge thanks to Raymond and the staff at the museum for a phenomenal tour. I highly encourage all baseball fans to pay a visit to Kansas City to see it.
On Saturday, we’ll host our eighth annual Negro Leagues Tribute at Miller Park as the Crew takes on the Miami Marlins at 6:10 p.m.
As part of the Negro Leagues Tribute, the Crew will wear reproductions of uniforms worn by the Milwaukee Bears, the city’s 1923 representative in the Negro National League.
The team played only one season before disbanding but featured some of the game’s most influential men, including Hall-of-Fame player/manager John Preston “Pete” Hill. The Miami Marlins will join in by donning uniforms of the Minor League Miami Marlins, who were a Triple-A franchise in the International League from 1956-1960. Hall-of-fame pitcher Satchel Paige was a member of the Marlins towards the end of his playing career from 1956-58.
We will also honor former Negro League players George Altman and Lonnie Harris in a pre-game ceremony. An autograph session with the two honorees will take place during the first 45 minutes of the game on the Field Level Concourse near home plate.
Altman, 80, was an outfielder for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1955. Nicknamed “Jo-Jo,” he played three months in the Negro Leagues before signing with the Chicago Cubs. He played for the Cubs (1959-62, ’65-67), St. Louis Cardinals (1963) and New York Mets (1964). Altman was a National League All-Star in 1961 and 1962. In addition, he spent seven seasons playing in Japan, where he finished his baseball career in 1975.
Harris, 83, played eight seasons in the Negro Leagues (1953-1960) as an outfielder with the Birmingham Black Barons and Memphis Red Sox. Nicknamed “Showboat,” he earned Rookie of the Year honors in 1953 and played in the East-West All-Star Games in 1953 and 1955. While serving in the U.S. Army, Harris won a batting title. In addition to his accomplished baseball career, he earned three bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree from the University of Memphis. After graduating, he taught special education and worked with the Board of Education for 20 years.
The activities continue on Sunday, July 21 beginning at 1:45 p.m. when Altman and Harris will be inducted into the Yesterday’s Negro League Hall of Fame at the Mother Kathryn Daniels Center located at 3500 W. Mother Daniels Way on the grounds of Milwaukee’s Holy Redeemer Church (COGIC). We are once again partnering with the MKDC and the church as a sponsor of the annual induction ceremonies and other initiatives. This event is open to the public.
In previous years, we’ve recognized pitcher/utility player Mamie “Peanut” Johnson and outfielder Porter Reed (2012), pitchers Charlie “Whip” Davis and Johnny Washington (2011); pitcher Ollie Brantley and first baseman/outfielder Clinton “Butch” McCord (2010); infielder Harold “Buster” Hair Jr. and catcher James “Jim P” Tillman Sr. (2009); pitcher Eugene ‘Dick’ Scruggs and first baseman James ‘Red’ Moore (2008); and outfielder W. James ‘Jim’ Cobbin and catcher Arthur Hamilton (2007) as they were inducted into the Yesterday’s Negro League Hall of Fame. During our initial Negro Leagues Tribute in 2006, Buck O’Neil, James Sanders and Dennis Biddle were each honored.
The game-worn Milwaukee Bears uniforms worn by Brewers players and coaches will be auctioned off at Brewers.com, starting at 9 a.m. CT on Tuesday, July 23 and continuing through Monday, July 29 at 5 p.m. CT. The proceeds from the auction will go to Brewers Community Foundation to benefit the Yesterday’s Negro League Baseball Players Foundation and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. For additional information or ticket info, fans can visit Brewers.com.
Yesterday marked our seventh annual Negro Leagues Tribute at Miller Park.
As part of the Negro Leagues Tribute, the Brewers wore reproductions of uniforms worn by the Milwaukee Bears, the city’s 1923 representative in the Negro National League. The team played just one season before disbanding but featured some of the game’s most influential men, including Hall-of-Fame player/manager John Preston “Pete” Hill. The Washington Nationals also joined in the celebration by wearing the uniforms of the Homestead Grays, which played in the Negro Leagues from 1912-1950.
As part of our tribute, we also honored two former Negro Leagues players, Porter Reed and Mamie “Peanut” Johnson in a pregame ceremony.
Porter Reed is 90 years old and played as an outfielder with four different teams from 1946-1953–the Detroit Wolves, the Ligon All-Stars, the Omaha Rockets and the Houston Eagles. Porter was known for his speed and strong arm. Prior to his career in the Negro Leagues, he served in the United States Army from 1942-46 and played baseball on the military teams while stationed overseas in Saipan.
“When I was a young man, there wasn’t much to do, but play sports. In the summertime, we played baseball and in the fall, we played football,” Porter told me.
His neighborhood in Muskogee, Oklahoma, though, really influenced his career.
There was a baseball diamond about 60 yards from his house Porter also noted that two men in the neighborhood played for the Kansas City Monarchs, which inspired him to want to play in the Negro Leagues.
Porter told me he doesn’t have one favorite memory of his time, but he enjoyed playing all over the United States, against all of the different Negro Leagues teams. Porter played with and against players like Satchel Paige (more on him in a minute), Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella.
It was an honor to speak to Porter, but personally, as a female, I was very excited to have the opportunity to meet and speak with Mamie “Peanut” Johnson. After facing rejection as a team member of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League due to race, Mamie turned a negative into a positive by becoming just one of three women to play in the Negro Leagues alongside the men (the other two were Connie Morgan and Toni Stone). Mamie was a right-handed pitcher and utility player for the Indianapolis Clowns from 1953-55.
“Where I came from in South Carolina, we had had nothing else to do when I was a child. Baseball was all we knew and we made our own baseballs with a stone, some twine and masking tape and that was our baseball. I learned how to play it pretty good when I was about 7 or 8 years old. The more I played, the better I got. The better I got, the more I wanted to play. And it just stuck with me. Baseball was just my thing and I enjoyed it and it was in mind as I got older that that was what I was going to do,” Mamie said.
Mamie moved to New Jersey and then to Washington, D.C. In Washington, D.C., she played sandlot ball with the men.
“One day a gentleman that was an old Negro League ballplayer asked me if I wanted to play pro baseball and I said, ‘Hell yeah! I’m ready. This has been on my mind for years. ‘ I was just at the right place at the right time. He sent me to meet the Clowns.”
Mamie said she went for a tryout that day… and the next day she was on the bus to Spring Training.
Mamie, who compiled a 33-8 record, earned her nickname “Peanut” when Kansas City Monarchs third baseman Hank Baylis taunted her because of her small size.
I had read that Mamie received some advice on her curveball from the legendary pitcher Satchel Paige. When I asked her about this, she confirmed it, telling me:
“I met him and it was such a pleasure. I didn’t realize who he really was, that he was one of the greatest pitchers that ever lived, you know? I didn’t realize it because we were just playing ball and then-hey! It meant so much to me to know that he was that kind, to help me.”
When Mamie was asked if she struck out anyone with that level of notoriety, she said, “‘I struck out a whole lot of fellas” and named Henry “Hank” Aaron, also a former Indianapolis Clown, among them, as well as the Negro Leagues All-Star catcher, Art “Junior” Hamilton (who was honored at Miller Park in 2007).
During her career, Mamie was part of the Clowns’ championship team in 1954. Of winning, “It felt beautiful!” she said.
“”To be able to say you were an equal to some of the best ballplayers that ever picked up the bat….I am proud to say I did it and I did it well!” Mamie exclaimed.
“When you have something that’s in you that you want to do and you get the opportunity to do that, It’s a tremendous feeling and this is how I started playing Negro League Baseball and it was so, so wonderful, I enjoyed it,” she said.
Following her baseball career, Mamie returned to school and became a nurse for over 30 years.
The ceremonies for both Porter and Mamie will continue today, beginning at 1:45 p.m. when they will be inducted into the Yesterday’s Negro League Hall of Fame at the Mother Kathryn Daniels Center located at 3500 W. Mother Daniels Way on the grounds of Milwaukee’s Holy Redeemer Church (COGIC). The event is open to the public.
In addition, the game-worn Milwaukee Bears uniforms from last night’s game will be available for auction on brewers.com starting at noon CT on Wednesday, August 1. The auction will end at 5 p.m. CT on Wednesday, August 15. The proceeds from the auction will go to Brewers Community Foundation to benefit the Yesterday’s Negro League Baseball Players Foundation and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.