The Detroit Tigers host the franchise's eleventh annual Negro Leagues Weekend April 26-28 as the Tigers host the Atlanta Braves at Comerica Park. On Saturday April 27 the Tigers will suit up wearing throwback uniforms of the Detroit Stars and the Braves will suit up as the Atlanta Black Crackers during the 19th Annual Negro Leagues Tribute Game. The Annual Negro Leagues Weekend marks the first - and longest running - three-day celebration of its kind in Major League Baseball.
The Detroit Tigers will pay tribute to several former Negro Leagues players as current and former Tigers players, as well as special guests, all come together for a weekend full of events celebrating the contributions of Negro Leagues players to the game of baseball.
Friday, April 26 - Atlanta Braves (Probables: Sanchez vs. Maholm) @ 7:08 p.m. (Gates open at 5:00 p.m.)
· The Tigers have partnered with Radio One Detroit for the 7th Annual Detroit Stars Singing Competition. The competition will be hosted by Tune Up of Radio One and will take place at the Big Cat Court starting at 5:30 p.m. The top 10 finalists will be judged by celebrity judges Duke Fakir of The Four Tops, Drew Rives, Midwest Marketing Director of Island Def Jam Music Group and Lee Thomas, Entertainment Anchor and Reporter from FOX 2 News. The winner will receive $1,500, will be recognized at Comerica Park and will have the opportunity to sing the national anthem prior to the Tigers vs. Royals game on August 15, 2013.
· The Tigers are continuing their celebration of African Americans and their numerous contributions to the game of baseball with a special pregame ceremony. The ceremony will include the "Passing of the Bat" ceremony featuring former Detroit Stars player Walt Owens, Tigers alumni Ike Blessitt, FOX Sports Detroit broadcaster Rod Allen, Tigers Hitting Coach Lloyd McClendon and Johnny Slater of Southfield Lathrup High School. Slater is one of the top senior high school baseball prospects in the state of Michigan who is committed to play at the University of Michigan. The "Passing of the Bat" ceremony embodies the past, present and future contributions of African American ballplayers to the game of baseball and includes ballplayers from all eras of Detroit baseball - Negro Leagues players, former Tigers players, current Tigers players/coaches and youth baseball players.
· The national anthem will be performed by Joyce Stearnes Thompson and Rosilyn Norman-Brown, daughters of Norman "Turkey" Stearnes, a Hall of Famer who was one of the Negro Leagues' most feared hitters and played for the Detroit Stars from 1923-31, 1933 and 1937, during a baseball career that lasted from 1920-45. In 2007, the Tigers unveiled a plaque recognizing Stearnes, who was a league leader in nearly every category. The plaque is located near the Gate C entrance at Comerica Park.
· Son-in-Law of Hall of Famer Norman "Turkey" Stearnes, Malcolm Thompson, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
· Negro Leagues merchandise will be sold throughout the weekend by Tony Dee's Negro Leagues Baseball Store and Apparel near Gate A.
Saturday, April 27- Atlanta Braves (Probables: Porcello vs. Medlen) @ 1:05 p.m. (Gates open at 11:00 a.m.)
· The first 10,000 fans to enter Comerica Park will receive a Prince Fielder Detroit Stars Fathead, courtesy of Comerica Bank.
· The Detroit Tigers and Atlanta Braves will suit up wearing the throwback uniforms of the Detroit Stars and Atlanta Black Crackers.
· Several former Negro Leagues players will participate in a special Q&A Roundtable on the Main Concourse, near the Big Cat Court, from 2:20-3:30 p.m.
· The Tigers will pay tribute to 12 former Negro Leagues players during a special pregame ceremony which includes Frank Crosson, Charlie Davis, Melvin "Buck" Duncan, Minnie Forbes, Bill Hall, Gene Johnson, Walt Owens, Jake Sanders, Henry Saverson, Pedro Sierra, Ron "Schoolboy" Teasley and Johnny Walker. The ceremony will be hosted by famed radio announcer John Mason of WCHB AM 1200.
· Comerica Bank Representative Larry Bryant, District Manager of Comerica's East Oakland Region and Co-Chair of Comerica's African American Initiative Team will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
· The Tigers will honor former Negro Leagues players Joe Douse and Elton King with a moment of silence.
· A $10,000 donation check will be presented to Don Bosco Hall by Comerica Bank during a special pregame ceremony.
Sunday, April 28 - Atlanta Braves (Probables: Fister vs. Minor) @ 8:06 p.m. (Gates open at 6:30 p.m.)
· All kids 14-and-under will receive a Miguel Cabrera Triple Crown Hat, courtesy of Belle Tire.
· 10,000 Larry Herndon Photo Cards will be distributed as fans exit Comerica Park.
· The national anthem will be performed by The Brazeal Dennard Chorale.
· The ceremonial first pitches will be thrown by former Tigers outfielder and 1984 World Series Champion, Larry Herndon and McDonald's Representative and member of the Black McDonald's Owners and Operators Association John Campbell.
· A special pregame ceremony will honor former Tigers outfielder and 1984 World Series Champion, Larry Herndon. He will be presented the Detroit Tigers African American Legacy Award, sponsored by the Black McDonald's Owners and Operators Association. The ceremony will include a presentation of Testimonial Resolution to Herndon by Council President Pro Tempore Gary Brown. The African-American Legacy Award is designed to celebrate the contributions of African-American Detroit Tigers players to the rich history of Detroit Tigers baseball. The award was first presented in 2009. The on-field ceremony and award presentation serve as the culminating activities to the Detroit Tigers annual Negro Leagues Weekend celebration. The Detroit Tigers African-American Legacy Award honors current or former African-American Detroit Tigers for their influence on players of all races who followed in their footsteps.
Former Negro Leagues Players Appearing
· Frank Crosson - A pitcher for the Memphis Red Sox and former roommate of 1956 Negro League All-Star Charley Pride.
· Charlie Davis - Played for the Memphis Red Sox and Birmingham Black Barons. He managed the Rockdale Rawhide team (1958-1959), in the Georgia/Alabama Amateur League.
· Melvin "Buck" Duncan - From 1949-56, he pitched for the Kansas City Monarchs and the Detroit Stars. Before his Negro League career, he posted a 19-1 record while pitching for the United States Army baseball team.
· Minnie Forbes - She was the fourth woman to play in the Negro Leagues when she played third base for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1958. She was a secretary for the Grand Rapids Black Six, Detroit Stars and Kansas City Monarchs before becoming only the third woman to own a Negro Leagues team when she became owner of the Detroit Stars in 1956.
· Bill Hall - He pitched for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1955 and was named the Negro Leagues East/West All-Star. He went on to play in the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Giants farm systems.
· Gene Johnson - Played both first and third base for the Detroit Stars from 1956-57. He was selected to play in the East/West All-Star Game in 1956.
· Walt Owens - Nicknamed Coach "O," was a pitcher, outfielder and first baseman for the Detroit Stars from 1953-1955.
· Jake Sanders - He was an outfielder that played for the Detroit Stars and Kansas City Monarchs from 1955-1958. He played in the 1957 East/West All-Star game.
· Henry Saverson - He was an infielder who played for the Detroit Stars from 1956-1958.
· Pedro Sierra - Pitched for the Indianapolis Clowns and Detroit Stars and participated in the East/West All-Star Game in 1955. He went on to play in the Minnesota Twins and Washington Senators organizations.
· Ron "Schoolboy" Teasley - A Detroit native, he played for the Detroit Cubs, Toledo Cubs, Toledo Crawfords, Toledo Rays, Detroit Wolves and New York Cubans from 1938-48. He is a member of Wayne State University's Hall of Fame and has worked for 20 years as an educator and baseball coach at Northwestern High School in Detroit.
· Johnny Walker - Played second base for the Grand Rapids Black Sox, Detroit Stars and Kansas City Monarchs from 1957-61.