The Rev. Bill Greason stated he doesn’t pay a lot consideration to sports activities lately.
It’s been particularly troublesome this 12 months, he stated, because the pandemic prompted a worldwide shutdown of sports activities in any respect ranges. And at 96, Greason, a World War II veteran who fought on the Battle of Iwo Jima and later pitched for the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues, stated he spends “a lot of my time studying the Bible” and making ready to ship sermons to his Alabama parish every Sunday.
But when Greason realized about Major League Baseball’s announcement Wednesday that it was elevating the Negro Leagues to Major League status and recognizing its statistics and data as a part of baseball’s historical past, he had one easy query: What took so lengthy?
“It’s long overdue because practically all the guys that played in the Negro Leagues played in the major leagues,” Greason, who was a Barons teammate of Willie Mays and himself later pitched briefly within the majors for the St. Louis Cardinals, informed NBC News. “Once they left the Negro Leagues, they went straight to the (majors) and they produced. Baseball is just baseball. The only thing that kept us apart was the color of our skin, rather than the ability to play.”
Baseball’s file books shall be altered because of MLB’s announcement, however that change is barely one of many many layers of a long-standing nationwide dialog in regards to the Negro Leagues and the right recognition of its place in historical past.
Jackie Robinson broke the key leagues’ colour barrier in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, however 22 years later the Special Committee on Baseball Records acknowledged six extra “Major Leagues” since 1876. That spherical excluded the Negro Leagues.
Monte Irvin within the Nineteen Fifties.Howard Muller / Getty Images
Baseball didn’t deal with pensions as they pertain to Negro Leagues gamers till 1997,