Sunday, July 04, 1999

Reds consider Negro League Night

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Of the 30 major league baseball teams, at least 15 of them have hosted Negro League Nights in which the two major-league teams play their official game in replica uniforms from the Negro League teams and local Negro Leaguers are feted in a ceremony before the game.

        The Reds, who have played in such games on the road (they wore the uniforms of the 1942 Cincinnati Buckeyes last year in Detroit) but have never hosted a Negro League Night, are hoping to do so next year.

        “We'd like to do something with it in conjunction with the RBI program (Restoring Baseball to the Inner City) we've gotten started here in town,” said Reds managing executive John Allen.

        “Nothing's been booked yet, but ideally we'd like to do it in 2000 and get the RBI kids down here for it.”

        Mr. Allen was at Tiger Stadium last year when the Reds played the Tigers on Negro League Night. A total of about 60 replica uniforms at a cost of about $75 to $100 apiece are required. There are a couple of different ways to fund that cost, be it corporate sponsorship or having the players autograph their game-worn uniforms and selling them to collectors.

        Net proceeds over and above the cost of the uniforms realized from a sponsorship deal or a collectors' sale could go to either RBI or another minority-related baseball program, Mr. Allen said.

        Sammy Miller, a member of the Society of American Baseball Research and editor of the Negro Leagues Courier, would like the Reds to dress in the mid- to late-1940s uniforms of the Cincinnati-Indianapolis Clowns and have the Chicago Cubs dress in the uniforms of the Chicago American Giants from the same era.

        “It'd be a natural, because there are former players from both teams who live in Cincinnati and could be feted that night,” Mr. Miller said. “But it needs to happen soon. There's no nice way to put it: the former players of the Negro Leagues are going quickly.”


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