President Barack Obama honored former baseball players from the Negro League, a haven for Black players who for decades were prevented from competing with white players in professional baseball.
Atlanta baseball legend James “Red” Moore lived through many unforgettable moments on the field, but none could compare with the thrill of a lifetime at the White House on August 5th-a meet and greet with the President of the United States.
President Obama on Monday honored Moore, the 96 year-old former member of the Atlanta Black Crackers, and 11 other stars of the iconic Negro Leagues.
The White House said Obama invited the players and their families to the White House to mark their contributions to American history, civil rights and athletics. The other players in the delegaton, including Minnie Minoso, Ron Teasley and Pedro Sierra, competed for teams like the Philadelphia Stars, New York Black Yankees, Indianapolis Clowns and Boston Blues.
“You brought a sense of pride to the Black community during the tough social climate of segregation,” The President said to the group in the Grand Foyer of the White House.
Obama shook hands with Moore and each of the other players before his remarks.
“I want to make sure I get your names right,” The President joked. Obama, a life-long student of history, is well-versed on the Negro Leagues.
Moore, who lives in Atlanta was recognized as one of the premier first basemen in the Negro National and American Leagues from 1935 to 1940. He played on three All-Star teams and three Second Half Championship teams and was selected for the 1938 Southern News Services All-American Negro League Baseball Team. Moore was known as a defensive whiz who could “pick it” at first base, according to Buck O’Neal, the late Negro Leagues player and manager.
Black Players players were forced to ply their trade in their own Leagues for decades segregation because they weren’t allowed to compete with White players in the Major Leagues. But over time, they developed their own highly entertaining brand of baseball with blazing speed on the basepaths, power hitting, tight defense and stellar pitching that was popular with baseball fans-Black and White.
The Leagues declined and eventually disbanded after Jackie Robinson in 1947 became the first Black in modern times to play in the Major Leagues, clearing a path for other Black players to follow to the majors.
Moore was able to make the trip to Washington thanks to the generosity of fans and admirers who read of his opportunity in CrossRoadsNews.
“We raised $1,070 in donations,” said friend Greg White who flew to Washington with the family. “We were also able to get discounts on the airfare, so we want to thank everyone who made this trip possible.”
After the President’s remarks, the group broke into an impromptu rendition of “happy birthday” in belated honor of Obama’s 52nd birthday Sunday.
“Wow, you can sing too!” Obama quipped.
“Red was thrilled, they all were,” said White. “I’m just so happy for them to not only get the recognition they deserve but to have the once in a lifetime chance to interact with the President.”
Written by Ken Watts at crossroadsnews.com
For more information on the Negro Leagues please visit: The Negro League Museum at www.nlbm.com
To see the Museum Of UnCut Funk Negro League collection please visit museumofuncutfunk.com/2009/12/04/negro-leagues-memorabilia/