Pride & Passion: The African American Baseball Experience

Negro League veterans Pedro Sierra and Robert Scott.

The nationally-touring “Pride & Passion” exhibit, put together by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the American Library Association, and sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, opened at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library Aug. 18.  A reception and program were held in Mancini Hall Tuesday Aug. 21.

The exhibit tells the story of racial discrimination in major league baseball, forbidding teams to allow black baseball players from competing against white baseball players.

Teams, whose rosters were made up exclusively of black players, were formed into leagues that were collectively known as the Negro Leagues. The Negro Leagues enjoyed their highest level of success in the 1940s and they continued into the 1960s.

Unfortunately, the integration of major league baseball (with the signing of Jackie Robinson in 1945,) while a great step in promoting racial integration, marked the death knell of the Negro Leagues. The last Negro League team disbanded in 1961.

Tuesday’s program presented two baseball players from those teams: Pedro Sierra and Robert Scott who spoke of their playing experiences and answered questions about contemporary baseball. Dr. Lawrence Hogan, Professor of History at Union County College, spoke of the legendary players and teams who played in the Negro Leagues and the segregation and resistence they encountered along the way.

A slideshow from the opening and reception can be found on our Flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oceancountylibrary/sets/72157631194039690/show/

Six more programs in the Pride & Passion series will be presented at the Toms River branch over the next five weeks:

The film “Soul of the Game” will be shown Thurs. Aug 30 @ 6:30 p.m.

Former Negro League ballplayer Jim Robinson, along with Drs. Lawrence Hogan and Robert Cvorynek, will discuss the correlation of hip-hop and basketball in this day and age to Jazz and baseball in the 30s & 40s during “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing: Black Baseball and Jazz in the Jim Crow Era” Sat. Sept. 8 @ 2 p.m.

Ken Burns’ documentary film “Shadow Baseball,” about the parallel world of Negro League players, will be shown Wed. Sept 12 @ 2 p.m.

The documentary film “There Was Always Sun Shining Someplace: Life in the Negro Leagues,” narrated by James Earl Jones, will be shown Tue. Sept 18 @ 7 p.m.

The film “Only the Ball was White” with interviews with such Negro League ballplayers as Buck Leonard, Roy Campanella, Jimmy Crutchfield, David Lararcher, Effa Manley and Satchel Paige will be shown Wed. Sept 26 @ 2 p.m.

And Audrey Vernick, author of “She Loved Baseball: the Effa Manley Story” will talk about her book and Manley, the owner of the Newark Eagles, Thur. Sept 27 @ 7 p.m. Manley was the first woman to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

An exhibit and display of Negro League memorabilia can be viewed until the end of September.

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