We're collecting recaps from the 2012 Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference and posting them here. You can learn more about the Malloy Conference — the only symposium dedicated exclusively to the examination and promotion of black baseball history — at SABR.org/Malloy. Enjoy!
- Lee Lowenfish
Don’t let your East or West Coastal snob friends downgrade Cleveland. I just returned from a wonderful time in the historic city on Lake Erie. I spoke twice on my favorite subject BRANCH RICKEY and how his moral passion and baseball business intelligence contributed to his signing of JACKIE ROBINSON. And how its success was veritably the first triumph of the modern civil rights movement.
I never tire of making the point publicly that the years immediately after World War II were the particularly propitious time for baseball to do both the right thing and the economically profitable thing. And Rickey alone among the baseball moguls seized the moment. My only sadness is that he didn’t enjoy more of his triumph because WALTER O’MALLEY ousted him from Brooklyn after 1950. The last 15 years of Rickey’s life were not as successful as his earlier career and yet he never gave up hope of doing better and doing good.
My second speaking gig was as part of an author’s panel for the 15th annual Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference sponsored by SABR (the Society for American Baseball Research). The late Jerry Malloy was a pioneer researcher into the neglected story of the Negro Leagues and black baseball at its deepest roots.
Finding the gravesites of black ballplayers and digging new sites for rediscovered players are among the most widely and deservedly acclaimed activity of the Malloy group. The indefatigable DR. JEREMY KROCK announced at the conference that money has been raised for a new gravesite for SOL WHITE, a pioneering late 19th century/early 20th century ballplayer and historian of his craft. It will be dedicated in Staten Island sometime this fall. As will shortly three other new gravesites for former black baseball players.
On a Saturday author’s panel I was honored to share thoughts on research and writing with the eminent Cleveland sportswriter TERRY PLUTO; the multi-talented writer, author, singer, photographer BYRON MOTLEY who is currently working on a film on the Negro leagues; and THOMAS AIELLO, author of a searing new book “The Kings of Casino Park: Race and Race Baseball in the Lost Season of 1932” (University of Alabama Press, 2011) about the unknown story of a successful black baseball team in 1932 playing in Monroe, Louisiana, a heavily segregated town known infamously for its inordinate number of lynchings, and revealingly the home town of author Aiello.
- R.J. Page
Baseball Books and Beats
I must admit, I had no idea what to expect from my first SABR (Society of American Baseball Research) affiliated conference. On my way to the conference I was faced with the usual questions a high school freshman ponders before their first day of school: would I fit in, will I have anyone to talk to, do I know enough to be in a room with some of baseball’s premier researchers and writers? It did not take long before I could answer each of my questions with a resounding YES! There were no strangers at the Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference and everyone there had one common goal: To share what they knew about Black Baseball. What follows is a running diary of my experience at the Conference.
I decided to arrive at the conference early for the research workshop taking place at the Cleveland Public Library. Our research session was led by Stephanie Liscio, author of Integrating Baseball in Cleveland, and frequent contributor to ESPN’s baseball blog the Sweet Spot. Having been familiar with her writing yet unaware of her participation with the conference, the baseball nerd in me knew rather early that this conference was going to be a hit. The highlight of the research session and the envy of our group was the library’s Sports Research Center which is the only one of its kind in the country. As you can probably guess, the Research Center contains rough draft’s of speeches written by Jackie Robinson, newspaper clippings from baseball games of the 1800′s, and baseball books galore. The Sports Research Center is a truly novel concept I wouldn’t mind my local library mimicking.
For more coverage of the Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference, visit SABR.org/Malloy.