Now Commenting On:

Negro Leaguers honored with Tribute Game

Negro Leaguers honored with Tribute Game play video for Negro Leaguers honored with Tribute Game

DETROIT -- Saturday's game against the Rangers was the Tigers' 20th annual Negro Leagues Tribute Game. Both teams wore uniforms from that era, with Detroit representing that city's Stars franchise and Texas representing the Fort Worth Black Panthers.

Before the game, 10 former Negro Leagues players participated in a roundtable discussion at Comerica Park, fielding questions from fans about their experiences.

Charlie Davis, Melvin Buck Duncan, Pedro Sierra, Walt Owens, Johnny Walker, Bill Hill, Ron Teasley, Minnie Forbes, Eugene Scruggs and Henry Saverson were all in attendance and were honored in an on-field ceremony prior to the game. They represented teams such as the Memphis Red Sox and Indianapolis Clowns, in addition to Detroit.

The honorees maintained strong ties to Detroit through the years -- Teasley, for example, grew up in Detroit and later coached baseball at the city's Northwestern High School. He threw out a ceremonial first pitch before Saturday's game.

One former player referred to the Negro Leagues as "the most important chapter in the history of baseball in the United States."

Forbes, who owned the Stars and also was the fourth woman to play in the Negro Leagues, remembered the time period fondly as well.

"It was a unique experience for me," said Forbes, who played third base. "I learned a lot."

That's not to say, however, that all of her memories are endearing.

"I didn't get an opportunity to show how smart I was because they wouldn't let me hit the ball," Forbes said.

The difficulties the Negro League players faced ranged from the mildly annoying (rough travel schedules and sub-optimal accommodations) to downright nasty displays of racist vitriol.

"We didn't care because we loved the game," said Sierra, who introduced himself as the last Negro League player to be signed by a Major League club.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boys and Girls Club of America

©2014 MLBAM, LP. All rights reserved.

The following are trademarks or service marks of Major League Baseball entities and may be used only with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. or the relevant Major League Baseball entity: Major League, Major League Baseball, MLB, the silhouetted batter logo, World Series, National League, American League, Division Series, League Championship Series, All-Star Game, and the names, nicknames, logos, uniform designs, color combinations, and slogans designating the Major League Baseball clubs and entities, and their respective mascots, events and exhibitions. Use of the Website signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy (updated May 24, 2013).

View MLB.com in English | En Español