On February 13, 1920, Andrew “Rube” Foster gathered a few other Midwestern team owners together for a meeting in the Paseo YMCA in Kansas City, Missouri. Foster had been a dominant pitcher for the Philadelphia Cuban X-Giants, recording 44 game wins in a row in 1902 and earning the nickname “Black Christy Mathewson,” so it was unsurprising that he approached this meeting with a game plan already in place. He arrived with an official charter document for the Negro National League already prepared, and within that day they formed the Negro National League. Shortly thereafter, other geographic leagues were founded, which led to the launch of the annual Negro League World Series.
Tonight Dee Gordon stretched his consecutive on-base streak to nine, with a force out and a HBP, along with two stolen bases. He was responsible for two of the Mariners eight runs scored in their 8-2 victory over the Royals and, though it wasn’t his most offensively brilliant outing, he looked every bit the dynamic leadoff hitter.
The Negro Leagues are an integral part of African American history, but they also benefited hundreds of Latin American players who traveled north to play in the United States. In University of Illinois Professor Adrian Burgos, Jr.’s book “Playing America’s Game,” he writes that approximately 284 Latinos played in the United States from 1902-1947, but of those 284 only 54 (those who were lighter-skinned, and therefore capable of passing as white) played in the major leagues. The remaining 230, such as Martín Dihigo, Luis Tiant Sr., and Pedro Cepeda (the fathers of Orlando and Luis Jr., respectively), played in the Negro Leagues.
Tonight Guillermo Heredia homered in the fifth inning; Jean Segura nearly hit for the cycle, going 3 for 5 with a single, double, and triple; Robinson Canó went 1 for 2 with a double, a HBP, and a walk. It wasn’t the sharpest outing for Félix Hernández, but he lasted 5.2 innings, giving up six hits, three earned runs, and just one walk, and Edwin Díaz continued his no-holds-barred assault on opposing hitters with three strikeouts in the ninths.
The Great Depression forced Foster’s Negro National League to shut down, but it resurfaced again in 1937, this time as the Negro American League, which would ultimately last until the final teams folded in the 1960s. During their existence, Negro League teams thrived, drawing major crowds, playing in the first-ever night game, and debuting an East-West All-Star game the same year that MLB introduced their own.
Earlier today a number of the Mariners made a pilgrimage to the Negro Leagues Museum, where James Paxton towered gently over the statue of Satchel Paige, and Gordon posed cooly beside the coolest of them all, Cool Papa Bell. The concept of the Museum was a longtime dream of Horace Peterson, Buck O’Neil, Don Motley, Alfrred Surratt, Connie Johnson, and a handful of others, who spent years pushing for a Negro Leagues Museum and, more importantly, for the story of the Negro Leagues and its players to be learned and remembered. What was once a small, unmarked room in the Lincoln Building has grown dramatically over the years, and is now a destination for players and fans alike.
SPEED THRILLS: @FlashGJr standing next to the statue of Cool Papa Bell today! Gordon made his 1st NLBM visit in 2014. "I wear my pants legs up high every Sunday in honor of Cool Papa Bell," Gordon told me! @mab1281 @Mariners @MLB @FSKansasCity @MLB_PLAYERS @JPosnanski @Royals RT pic.twitter.com/LXhyx0ec8k— negroleaguesmuseum (@nlbmprez) April 11, 2018