A Publication of SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee “We are the Ship, All Else the Sea”
Editor, Larry Lester
In the News “The Best Conference Ever . . .
That’s the word on the street. THE JERRY MALLOY NEGRO LEAGUE CONFERENCE made a whistle stop in Birmingham, Alabama, the friendliest city in the South, as the GREATER BIRMINGHAM CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU (BCVB) rolled out the red carpet to welcome visitors arriving at the [Rev. Fred] Shuttlesworth International Airport. Volunteers Bert & Ernie from the BCVB provided assistance and directions throughout the conference weekend.
The conference kicked-off with our educational symposium on Thursday, July 15, at the BIRMINGHAM CIVIL RIGHTS INSTITUTE in the eloquent Reverend Abraham L. Woods, Jr. Community Meeting Room. The forum led by Dr. Leslie Heaphy of Kent State University and doctorial candidate at Case Western University (Cleveland) Stephanie Liscio discussed ideas for how to develop college or high school courses on the Negro Leagues while incorporating disciplines such as math, music, sociology, economics, civil rights, and American history into lesson plans.
During break sessions, attendees viewed the special Negro League exhibit on the second floor of the BCRI from the private collection of Wayne Stivers from Plano (IL). This exhibit included a stadium seat from old COMISKEY PARK, actual team uniforms and equipment, along with a host of photographs featuring Black Barons stars. There was also the revealing photographic RICKWOOD FIELD: THE COLOR OF BASEBALL exhibit by Bill Chapman from Harvard Univ. on the first floor.
The afternoon session included an excellent tour of the BCRI by student/scholar Jordan Croft en route to the University of Alabama at Birmingham to study History and Anthropology. As the symposium closed, tour buses brought more visitors to the BCRI for our “Meet & Greet Event” in the atrium of the BCRI. We opened with words of welcome from their President/CEO, Dr. Lawrence Pijeaux. While enjoying an array of tasty entrees, we introduced the unique panoramic double- stamp of Rube Foster along with a brief overview of upcoming events over the next two days.
The Meet & Greet and the conference provided “A marvelous opportunity to learn, to share, and to meet like-minded enthusiasts from all over the country,” boasted Dick “Big Mo” Mahoney from Columbus (MS) and a big fan of Monte Irvin.
On Friday, the United States Postal Service hosted a booth at the Sheraton Hotel to sell first day issue Negro Leagues Baseball stamps designed by award-winning artist Kadir Nelson (author of We Are The Ship).
We kicked-off the presentations with the journey of Birmingham native and Jackie Robinson’s first black Dodger teammate Dan Bankhead, by Bryan Steverson. Next in the lineup was Geri Strecker’s presentation on C.I. Taylor’s Birmingham Giants, followed by Clarence Watkins’ talk about “Baseball Before Rickwood.” Just before lunch, Dwayne Isgrig presented on the travels of Lorenzo “Piper” Davis and his near miss with integration in 1947 with the St. Louis Browns. Isgrig was joined by Piper’s daughter Faye Davis, who shared commentary about Willie Mays’ underrated manager, a former Harlem Globetrotter and perhaps black baseball’s premier utility player.
After lunch we enjoyed the Players’ Panel with Sam Allen and Willie Lee from the Kansas City Monarchs and Tony Lloyd from the Birmingham Black Barons, as they shared their stories of travel in the Negro Leagues. As always a conference highlight they signed autographs before we departed to historic RICKWOOD FIELD.