African American News and Genealogy

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

A tribute for the pioneers

Negro League players honored in ceremony By DON Posted: June 2, 2006 Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder and Bill Hall represent the future of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Buck O'Neil, James Jake Sanders and Dennis Biddle represent baseball's past. So it was both symbolic and poignant that, in pregame ceremonies before Milwaukee's game Friday night, the young Brewers expressed their appreciation of the three Negro League veterans with hugs and handshakes behind home plate. Friday night was the Brewers' first Negro Leagues Tribute, an event they plan to stage each season. This year, the Brewers brought in Buck O'Neil, still active at 94; James Jake Sanders, 73; and Dennis Biddle, 70, of Milwaukee as the first honorees. The names of all three were placed on the Miller Park Wall of Honor. On the field, the Brewers sported reproductions of uniforms worn by the Milwaukee Bears, a team that played in the Negro National League in 1923, while the Washington Nationals wore uniforms of the Negro National League's Homestead Grays. That team played in Washington from 1937-'48. The three Negro Leaguers all have résumés from the Negro Leagues era, especially O'Neil, who had a long and prosperous career with the old Kansas City Monarchs. In 1962, he became the first African-American coach in the major leagues when he was with the Chicago Cubs. Sanders played in 1956 for the Detroit / New Orleans Stars, played briefly in the Dodgers farm system in 1957 and later returned to the Kansas City Monarchs through the 1958 season.

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