CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled the surname of Dwayne Renal Sims.
The Negro League Legends Hall of Fame (NLLHF) brought a piece of baseball history back to Prince George’s Stadium, as they have done annually for several years with the East vs. West All-Star Game.
The annual game commemorates the rich history of the Negro Leagues and the legendary players who were involved in it. While the game was originally scheduled for July 28, it was postponed to Aug. 26 due to heat.
The first All-Star Game was put together in 1933 by Pittsburgh Crawfords owner Gus Greenlee during the Great Depression and votes were counted by now-historic Black newspapers the Pittsburgh Courier and the Chicago Defender.
In the final All-Star Game, held in 1962, Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson was honored with a key to Kansas City and numerous other awards. This year is the 90th year since the original was held in Chicago’s Comiskey Park.
Dwayne Renal Sims, who founded the NLLHF in 2003, has met over 75 players who participated in the Negro Leagues.
“The Negro Leagues is part of American Baseball History. Our Negro League Legends Hall of Fame, Inc. starts with the history of the Colored Professional, the first era of Black history which is seldom in a conversation. A sprinkle here and sprinkle there about the contributions, partial information is not enough,” Sims said. “I am looking forward to Major League Baseball continuing their commitment by being involved in widening the scope of the contribution of the Negro Leagues to baseball history.”
Describing his godfather is the beacon of his journey, Sims said he is also inspired by Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe and Wallace “Bucky” Williams, who both lived to their 102nd birthdays and had DMV ties. Radcliffe, who earned his nickname for his ability to both pitch and play backstop, pitched in three of his All-Star appearances and played catcher in the other three.
Both Rube Foster and Bill Foster were inducted posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame for their contributions to the game and outstanding talent.
Rube Foster is often called the “Father of Black Baseball” for his integral role in promoting Black baseball. Standout lefty pitcher Bill Foster pitched a complete game and led the West to an inaugural win in the original East vs. West All-Star Game.
William Foster, the grandnephew of Rube, lives in the DMV and has visited Cooperstown to bear witness to their Hall of Fame plaques.
Recent years have shown a decline in the number of African Americans in professional baseball.
In the first diversity study of MLB conducted in 1991, 18% of players were African-American. This year’s study showed 6.2% of players were African-American, a decline from the 7.2% reported the year prior.
There were also no African-American players on either team in the World Series for the first time since 1950, three years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.
Dusty Baker, who is African-American and managed the World-Series winning Astros, has lamented this fact in past years.
“It bothers me every day, to see how small the numbers are of African Americans playing baseball,” Baker told the Clarion Ledger about the lack of representation in the Fall Classic.
Baker is now hopeful that events like the HBCU Classic will get more opportunities for African Americans to play in the major leagues.
“I think it is pretty cool that young men from HBCUs can play in a big-league stadium while they are still in college,” Baker said, according to the Clarion Ledger.