1 Man’s Opinion

1-Man’s Opinion on Sports-Friday “SEY HEY-A BASEBALL SALUTE”

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“A BASEBALL MEMORY”
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Oh if that old baseball stadium in Birmingham could talk-could it tell stories.

Major League Baseball honored the Negro Leagues on Thursday night at Rickwood Field, the 114-year old stadium in Alabama.

What a show MLB put on, honoring the few that are left from the Negro Leagues, and remembering the legendary Willy Mays, who passed away days before he was supposed to be honored at home plate.

The Sey Hey Kid, a true-complete 5-tool player, did it all in an illustrious New York Giants-San Francisco Giants-New York Mets career.

You remember him for his 660-home runs, his (305) average, the stolen bases, the hits, the RBIs, his glove, and more than anything, his smile.  You remember him for the 1954 World Series catch that took away a Vic Wertz-Cleveland Indians home run that resulted in a Giants 4-game sweep.

Mays was a cross between Henry Aaron-Mickey Mantle-Roberto Clemente-Ted Williams.

The most amazing display of his talent was he played for the Birmingham Black Barons as a 16-year old high school player on weekends for 3-years.

He was signed by the New York Giants, and hit (.477) as a rookie with their top farmclub in Minneapolis.

Mays went to the Polo Grounds and promptly went (1-26) to start his career.  Manager Leo Durocher found him weeping in a dark corner in his clubhouse, doubting he could play in the majors.  He was told ‘you are my centerfielder-go play’.

The rest is history, 24-All Star games later.  His resting place is Cooperstown now.

But for 1-day yesterday, it was an amazing outpouring of the history of baseball in the shadows, the brand of black baseball we can only see thru graney black and white videos.

We can now see the Hall of Fame plaques of Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Oscar Charleston and so many more.  Now the stats are part of Cooperstown lore too.

The players may be gone, but the lore has now been preserved.

And now thanks to technology, we can find information about the Pittsburgh Crawfords, Homestead Grays, Kansas City Monarchs and those Birmingham Black Barons of Willy Mays.

What a fabulous salute Rob Manfred and baseball put together honoring the memory of any and all who barnstormed across the country playing the game.

As a sports-talk show host, I became fascinated with the Negro Leagues, and I interviewed the likes of Cool Papa Bell, Quincey Troupe, Buck Leonard, Buck O’Neill, Will Foster, Monte Irvin, Larry Doby and Don Newcombe.  The stories were never ending and fueled my interest in seeing the Negro League Museum.

And a thrill to interview my boyhood heroes, Mays, Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider , Ted Williams and Brooks Robinson and so many more.

It’s been a lifetime love affair with the game.

Thursday night gave us a great flashback.  Oh if that Stadium could talk, could it tell some stories about the Negro Leagues, what it meant to Black America, and now what it means to major league baseball now.

What a great time it was, what an honor being paid to them now, rightfully so.

#24 now #1 in hearts and minds of baseball fans, teams, players everywhere.  It should be that way.

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