In an age when “official” sports Web sites often have
that Clorox feel to them—utterly sanitized—it’s good to
know there are folks out there somewhere keeping up the
Your Field Correspondent also believes a healthy dose
of passion on a topic is as healthy as, well, a healthy
dose of passion.
So, in grand combination, we present the Negro Leagues
Baseball’s Negro Leagues have been kaput for more than
40 years, and that kaput-ness came after a decade of
near-kaput-ness, so it’s unlikely there’s much in the
way of “official” Web sites out there. And heaven knows,
the people who are putting out Negro Leagues pages are
passionate about the subject.
Coming Out of the
One of the most informative of the lot is called outoftheshadows.net
which is the product of a joint research project called
the Negro Leagues Researchers and Authors Group. It’s
backed by some big-name organizations—oh you know, the
Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball,
the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Society for American
Baseball Research, Notre Dame University, the Center
for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University,
etc. (Despite those credentials, the site is thoroughly
independent and informative.)
One of its handiest features for the three of you out
there who don’t have cable modem or DSL (at least that’s
what Microsoft thinks, if you’re using Win XP) is the
simple, quick-loading pages. That doesn’t mean that
outoftheshadows.net is ugly by any means, but you don’t
have to sit through somebody’s final project in Flash
301 to get into it.
In clever transition, one of the coolest features of
the site is a list of master’s theses and doctoral dissertations
written on the subject of Negro Leagues baseball. OK,
we know, most of these folks aren’t exactly Tom Clancy
when it comes to plots laden with explosions, intrigue,
and guys who look like Harrison Ford, but they are providing
insights into little-known bits and pieces of the culture,
available at a college near you.
Outoftheshadows.net also has a nice summary of the history
of the Negro Leagues as well as a—yes, dare we say it—subjective
list of the top 40 players in the history of the game.
There’s a well-done story on the election of Negro Leaguers
to the Baseball Hall of Fame, as well as notes about
some of those who aren’t in the hall but should be.
Included in this group is the senior statesman of the
Negro Leagues, Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, who recently
turned 100. Author and budding movie producer Kyle NcNary
has put together a page that focuses on Radcliffe, who
was given his nickname by sportswriter Damon Runyon
after he caught one game of a doubleheader and pitched
Making the Pitch—For
features McNary’s book about Radcliffe (just $10 plus
shipping) as well as information about a Negro Leagues-related
movie that the South Dakotan is trying to get produced.
It has a message board where it looks like folks actually
get answers to their questions, without a fee or jumping
through e-mail hoops.
Beyond that is a series of profiles called the "Negro
Leaguer of the Month." Mr. McNary has gone to great
lengths to avoid some of the obvious choices (Josh Gibson
for one) and instead focus on some of the better—but
lesser-known—stories of players like Toni Stone, one
of the women to play in the Negro Leagues, and Alec
Radcliffe, Ted’s brother, and a star in his own right.
The star of pitchblackbaseball.com, though, is an eye-grabbing,
multi-part story about the Bismarck, North Dakota, integrated
team—including Satchel Paige—that won a national title
during the 1930s. It’s complete with warts and photos.
Diamond in the Rough
But for tales, tall and otherwise, about the Negro Leagues,
the site to see is thediamondangle.com/marasco,
which is the handiwork of David Marasco, a former doctoral
student in physics (and now a doctor of physics, which
we assume is a license to bend the laws of same).
Marasco is part of an offbeat and readable Web site
dedicated to all kinds of baseball lore. And though
he has all kinds of tales on his site, Marasco’s best
stuff is on the Negro Leagues. (Even his story of endless
hours in front of microfilm of African-American papers
is interesting, especially to an old microfilm-eater
like your Field Correspondent.)
He’s got little-known tidbits like John McGraw’s efforts
to break the color barrier just after the turn of the
20th century, and one of the speedy Paige’s encounters
with a speed trap. Not fancy, by any stretch, but fascinating.
We recommend this busy and interesting message board
(and coming from a guy who has been blasted on a few,
that’s high praise).
Other Hits Not to
Noted Negro Leagues historian James Riley has a site
called blackbaseball.com [www.blackbaseball.com],
which is noteworthy for its commentary on Negro Leaguers
in the Baseball Hall of Fame—and its commentary on players
who ought to be there (Biz Mackey fans, take heart).
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which opened to
much fanfare and has perhaps the world’s greatest spokesman—the
lovable and loquacious Buck O’Neil—as its front man
and chairman of the board, has an outline of its offerings
at nlbm.com [www.nlbm.com].
A site called negroleaguebaseball.com [negroleaguebaseball.com]
has an overall look at the history of Negro Leagues
baseball, with stories and some biographies as well
as team histories.
There’s even a small site dedicated to the umpires,
including a great old photo of a couple of battered-looking
arbiters, at home.earthlink.com/~johnmur.
Virtually all the sites seem to have links to each
other, and of course the site that is the clearinghouse
of all that is hardball—baseball-links.com—has
a collection of pages that can be accessed using the
E-mail David King