Results tagged ‘ Yesterday’s Negro League Hall of Fame ’

NINTH ANNUAL NEGRO LEAGUES TRIBUTE AT MILLER PARK

Ninety-one years ago, Rube Foster formed a team in Milwaukee calling it the Bears. 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.

Tonight, we honor the legacy of the Milwaukee Bears and all Negro Leagues teams as we host our ninth annual Negro Leagues Tribute at Miller Park.

Former Negro League players Ted Toles Jr. and Nathan “Sonny” Weston were honored during a tailgate reception at Helfaer Field as well as during a special pre-game ceremony at Miller Park.

Ted Toles Jr. was born on December 4, 1925 in Newton Falls, Ohio. Ted had an extensive baseball career before and after he signed with the Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1946. He played in Newton Falls and with the Warren Game Cocks from 1940-46. Ted’s pitching coach got him noticed and he signed with the Negro Leagues’ Pittsburgh Crawfords. Ted went on to play for the Newark Eagles, Cleveland Buckeyes and Jacksonville Eagles from 1946-7 and in 1949. Primarily a pitcher, he also played in the outfield. Ted was noted for his fine fastball and deceptive off-speed pitches. His pitching skills and prowess at the plate took Ted to the Minor Leagues from 1949-1953.

Ted Toles, Jr. addresses the crowd before Saturday's Brewers vs. Mets game.

Ted Toles, Jr. addresses the crowd before Saturday’s Brewers vs. Mets game.

Nathan “Sonny” Weston was born on November 9, 1930 in New York City. Nathan played baseball for a number of teams throughout his career. He began with the Chicago Athletics, and played from 1947-50. In 1951, he made the move to the Negro American League and played for the Chicago American Giants. Although primarily an outfielder, he had a steady hand and played at first as well. Nathan finished his playing career in 1954 with the Independent League Jacksonville Eagles.

Weston addresses the crowd.

Weston addresses the crowd.

An autograph session with both honorees also took place during the first 45 minutes of the game on the Field Level Concourse near home plate. To support the museums and storytellers that carry on the memories, the proceeds of tonight’s 50/50 raffle will benefit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City and Yesterday’s Negro Leagues Foundation here in Milwaukee.

Tomorrow, Toles Jr. and Weston 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), beginning at 1:45 p.m. The Club is 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 have honored 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 our first Negro Leagues Tribute in 2006, Buck O’Neil, James Sanders and Dennis Biddle were each honored.

-Cait

JohnandCait@Brewers.com

BREWERS TO HOST ANNUAL NEGRO LEAGUES TRIBUTE ON SATURDAY

This Saturday, July 26, the Brewers will host the franchise’s ninth annual Negro Leagues Tribute at Miller Park. Former Negro League players Ted Toles Jr. and Nathan “Sonny” Weston will be honored during a tailgate reception at Helfaer Field, beginning at 3 p.m., along with a special pre-game ceremony at Miller Park. An autograph session with both honorees will take place during the first 45 minutes of the game on the Field Level Concourse near home plate.

Toles Jr., 88, began his playing career in the Negro Leagues as a pitcher/outfielder with the Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1946, going 18-7 as a pitcher while batting .350. Later that season, he earned an invitation to tour with the Jackie Robinson All-Stars, where he played on the west coast portion of the tour. He also played for the Newark Eagles and was a member of the Cleveland Buckeyes’ Winter League traveling team in 1947. Toles Jr. was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1950 and played in their minor-league system, along with the Philadelphia Athletics’ farm system. Additionally, he excelled as a boxer and track star.

Weston, 83, was an outfielder and first baseman with the Chicago American Giants in 1951. Following a season in the Negro Leagues, Weston was invited to spring training with the Chicago White Sox, but was the team’s final cut in the spring of 1952. He tried out for the Brooklyn Dodgers, but once again, was the final cut on a team that featured Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Duke Snider, among other baseball greats. A native of East Chicago, Weston graduated from Bloom Township High School and worked at the Ford Motor Company Stamping Plant in Chicago Heights, Illinois for 42 years.

On Sunday, July 27, Toles Jr. and Weston 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), 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, the Brewers honored 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.

Porter Reed & Mamie “Peanut” Johnson Honored at Negro Leagues Tribute

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.

-Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

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