Thursday, June 05, 2008

Cards select "Prince" Joe Henry

Stories spout from former Negro League player "Prince" Joe Henry.

He once faced legendary pitcher Satchel Paige.

Sometimes he ran the bases in a tuxedo with tails, a top hat and red shoes.

He barnstormed to places like Yankee Stadium with Reece "Goose" Tatum, the Harlem Globetrotters' original showman.

But no major league team ever claimed him.

Until today.

The St. Louis Cardinals will draft Henry before the Major League Baseball Entry Draft begins this afternoon in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Each of the 30 teams will ceremonially select a predetermined former Negro Leaguer to honor a fading chapter of the sport's history.

For many years, Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, now a vice president with the San Diego Padres, has wanted to honor Negro Leaguers while they are still alive. The death of Buck O'Neil, the Kansas City Monarchs' legend, in 2006 motivated his pursuit. Black players like O'Neil were relegated to the Negro Leagues until Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. However, many continued to play in the Negro Leagues because some clubs had racial quotas and were slow to integrate.

"It's real important to have a connection with this group of men and women who have been associated with the game and never really got their due," Winfield said.
I think it's nice that Major League Baseball is doing this sort of thing.

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