Febuary 17, 2006
NLBPA’s Board Members are featured in this article...
Posted on Fri, Feb. 17, 2006
Former players aim to preserve Negro leagues' history
Stanley "Doc" Glenn and Bill "Ready" Cash love to talk, and talk, and talk and...
The way they figure it, the more they talk, the better the odds someone will eventually listen.
The 79-year-old Glenn and the 86-year-old Cash are living links to the long-gone Negro leagues, where generations of players who were denied the opportunity to play in the major leagues because of the color of their skin, and not their ability to play baseball, could thrive.
Countless books have been written on the subject and a number of films, both feature and documentary, have told the story, but the leagues are still absent from American history books, Glenn and Cash insist.
So if the history books in elementary and high school classes aren't going to devote space to a significant part of America's past, Glenn and Cash and many others devoted to the cause are going to do their best to keep the stories alive.
"We need to talk about it, so whenever we get a chance to talk about it, we go," said Glenn, a catcher for the Philadelphia Stars from 1944 to 1950.
Glenn and Cash, two of the four surviving members of the Stars, were featured guests at Negro League Night at the Yeadon Library on Wednesday. The evening was held in honor of the 1925 champion Darby Hilldales and to foster awareness of the team as local supporters strive to get a historical marker for the Hilldales.
Ed Bacon, the batboy for the 1925 team, represented the Hilldales.
The event, held as part of the library's Black History Month festivities and in conjunction with the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame, though, was just another stop for Glenn and Cash.
"We're busy all year," said Cash, who played for the Stars and various other pro teams. "Schools, elementary schools, high schools, technical schools, universities, colleges... "
But Glenn, as he details in his upcoming book Let's Play Black Ball, says that the passing of tales from mouth to ear isn't enough in the long run.
"I'm never going to quit until it's in American history books," Glenn said. "I want them to know about it from the top. And I'm one of those guys."
Glenn had the privilege to catch Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige, and Cash barnstormed with Jackie Robinson in 1948.
That was one year after Robinson broke the color barrier in the major leagues by playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Although the mass migration of black players that followed Robinson to the majors eventually diluted and ended the Negro leagues, Glenn and Cash speak of Robinson with hushed tones.
Upon the 50th anniversary of his debut in 1997, Robinson's No. 42 was retired by every major league team. Recently there was some debate when advocacy group Hispanics Across America asked that Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente's number be set aside, like Robinson's.
Clemente, the great Puerto Rican outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, died in a plane crash in 1972 while flying relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. While both Glenn and Cash said that Robinson's struggle was unique and incomparable, they agreed that Clemente deserves similar recognition.
"He looked out for his country the same way Jackie looked out for his," Cash said. "He was just as determined at trying to get his people to do what he did. You can't put any doubt that he did less than Jackie did."