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Reclaiming the overlooked elites of baseball's Negro Leagues

A detailed view of first base celebrating the 18th Annual Negro League Tribute Game between the  Pittsburgh Pirates and the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on in Detroit, Michigan. The Pirates defeated the Tigers 4-3.
A detailed view of first base celebrating the 18th Annual Negro League Tribute Game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on in Detroit, Michigan. The Pirates defeated the Tigers 4-3.

Who’s the greatest baseball play of all time?Satchel Paige? Hank Aaron? Jackie Robinson?

Well, what metrics make someone great, if not the greatest? Is it how many home runs they hit? Or maybe how fast they throw? The truth is, it’s hard for many people to agree on a GOAT of any sort. Especially when some of the best weren’t recognized for their talents while they were using their skills and talents. 

For decades, Black baseball players were excluded from the major leagues. In 1920,the Negro Leagues were formed and offered a space for Black players to create their own baseball history. It was through the Leagues that some of thegreatest playersAmerica’s Past-time has ever seen honed their skills. 

In 2020 – 100 years after the Negro Leagues were formed – Major League Baseball officially designated them as “Major League,” meaning that their history and statistics would be considered as part of Major League Baseball.

Even so, many Black baseball players’s stories are unknown. And thehistories and legaciesof oppression, racism, and segregation still weigh heavily on the sport.

ABC Audio’s podcast“Reclaimed: The Forgotten League” explores the stories of some overlooked greats, includingNorman ‘Turkey’ Stearnes. His granddaughter,Vanessa Ivy Rosehosts the podcast and shares her journey of telling her grandfather’s story. 

We discuss the impact of Black baseball players and the Negro Leagues and what it means to be the greatest baseball player.

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5

Barb Anguiano
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