Satchel Paige at his Hall of Fame induction.
He concluded his speech saying, “I am the proudest man in the place today.”
On February 4, 1971, 45 years ago today, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn announced that former Negro League players will have a separate wing in the Hall of Fame.
Kuhn deserved an “A” for this idea, but like so many of his actions, Kuhn deserved an “E” for “error” on your scorecard (I remain stunned that Kuhn is in the Hall and the great Marvin Miller never earned the honor).
As Satchel Paige strongly stated: “I was just as good as the white boys. I ain’t going in the back door of the Hall of Fame.”
Due to the controversy that Kuhn’s “separate but equal” Jim Crow-like announcement caused, on July 6, 1971, it was decided inclusion in regular Hall of Fame was more fitting and more of an honor for the former Negro League stars.
Tom Singer on MLB.com, as part of their Negro Leagues Legacy series wrote a great piece about Ted Williams‘ 1966 Hall of Fame induction speech in which he urged the inclusion of Negro Leagues players into the Hall:
“The other day Willie Mays hit his five hundred and twenty-second home run. He has gone past me, and he’s pushing, and I say to him, ‘Go get ’em Willie.’ Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel. Not just to be as good as anybody else, but to be better. This is the nature of man and the name of the game. “I hope some day Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson will be voted into the Hall of Fame as symbols of the great Negro players who are not here only because they weren’t given the chance.”
Negro League Players who were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame starting in 1971
From the Tom Singer MLB.com article
|Name||Position||Team known for||HOF induction|
|Hank Aaron||Shortstop||Indianapolis Clowns||1982|
|Cool Papa Bell||Center field||Homestead Grays||1974|
|Oscar Charleston||Center field||Pittsburgh Crawfords||1976|
|Ray Dandridge||Third Base||Newark Eagles||1987|
|Leon Day||Pitcher, second base, outfield||Newark Eagles||1995|
|Martin Dihigo||All||New York Cubans||1977|
|Larry Doby||Second base||Newark Eagles||1998|
|Bill Foster||Pitcher||Chicago American Giants||1996|
|Rube Foster||Pitcher/manager||Chicago American Giants||1981|
|Josh Gibson||Catcher||Homestead Grays||1972|
|Monte Irvin||Shortstop||Newark Eagles||1973|
|Judy Johnson||Third base||Hilldale Daisies||1975|
|Buck Leonard||First base||Homestead Grays||1972|
|Pop Lloyd||Shortstop||Chicago American Giants||1977|
|Willie Mays||Center field||Birmingham Black Barons||1979|
|Satchel Paige||Pitcher||Kansas City Monarchs||1971 (first)|
|Jackie Robinson||Shortstop||Kansas City Monarchs||1962|
|Bullet Rogan||Pitcher||Kansas City Monarchs||1998|
|Hilton Smith||Pitcher||Kansas City Monarchs||2001|
|Turkey Stearnes||Center Field||Detroit Stars||2000|
|Willie Wells||Shortstop||St. Louis Stars||1997|
|Smokey Joe Williams||Pitcher||New York Lincoln Giants||1999|
Satchel Paige was the first to be voted into the Hall in 1971
Fortunately, Kuhn’s clumsy initial effort was corrected before the induction ceremony.