PRESS RELEASE – Fans of the Charleston RiverDogs will get a glimpse of history when the club concludes Larry Doby Heritage Weekend on Sunday, June 12. The RiverDogs and Greenville Drive will step back in time as they don the throwback jerseys of the Newark Eagles and Homestand Grays, two historic Negro Leagues franchises.
Former Negro League stars Sam Allen, Carl Long, and Clifford Layton are also scheduled to be on hand to throw out first pitches before the 5:05 start time. The dignitaries will be stationed on the concourse all night, greeting fans, and selling one-of-a-kind merchandise from their days as ballplayers.
“Paying tribute to the Negro Leaguers who helped pave the way for integration in Major League Baseball is a special occasion for us each and every year,” said RiverDogs Assistant General Manager Harold Craw. “The former players love to pass on their experience to the younger generations, and the jerseys are a great touch for the fans to enjoy.”
Allen roamed the outfield for the Kansas City Monarchs from 1957-1959. The Norfolk, Virginia native was one of the Monarchs’ top batters in his final season, batting .295 before being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1960, where he continued to play baseball, and football, while stationed at Fort Bragg.
Long began his Negro League career in 1951 at age 16 with the Nashville Stars. The Rock Hill, S.C. native joined the Black Barons in 1952, where he played alongside icons like Willie Mays, Charlie Pride, Ernie Banks and Frank Robinson.
A right-handed pitcher, Layton toed the rubber for the Indianapolis Clowns from 1951-1953 then the New York Black Yankees in 1954. The Dunn, N.C. native took the field alongside Leroy “Satchel” Paige, Joe Black and Jackie Robinson.
Sunday’s festivities put a bow on a weekend-long celebration of Larry Doby, who was signed by Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck in 1947 and became the first black player to crack the American League a year later. Doby played for the Newark Eagles himself before entering the Major League ranks, as he was signed at the tender age of 17 out of his hometown Paterson, New Jersey.
Saturday’s slate is headlined by an appearance from the 1955 Cannon Street All-Star Team, as well as the awarding of the Lawrence A. Holt Memorial Scholarship. The 1955 Cannon Street All-Stars will be introduced prior to the 7:05 p.m. first pitch with the Asheville Tourists. The 1955 Cannon Street All Stars were a group of African-American youngsters who were barred from playing in any little league postseason tournaments because of a boycott by the area’s all-white leagues.
Despite not appearing in any local, state and regional tournaments, American Little League Baseball declared the Cannon Street All-Stars champions by forfeit; however, the team was not allowed to compete for a national title due to the fact that they had not advanced to the national tournament through on-field victories. To this day, the team is recognized for its contributions to America’s Pastime and helping to level the playing field for players of all colors in Little League and beyond.
The Lawrence A. Holt Memorial Scholarship Award is given annually to a college-bound graduating high school senior. Lawrence A. Holt was a star player for the Charleston American Little League squad as well as a leader in the community and the classroom. Holt’s life was cut short when he was diagnosed with cancer and died of a brain tumor shortly after his graduation from Garrett Academy. The recipient of the award will be recognized prior to Saturday’s game. A silent auction will also be held to benefit the scholarship fund.
For more information on the RiverDogs’ June 12 Salute to Negro League Baseball Night contact Harold Craw with the RiverDogs Front Office at (843) 723-7241.
The RiverDogs entertain Asheville tonight and Saturday night, before welcoming Greenville to town for a four-game series, beginning Sunday, June, 12, at 5:05 p.m. For more information on tickets visit http://www.RiverDogs.com or call the RiverDogs box office at (843) 577-DOGS (3647).