From the Big House to the Big Leagues

From Stephen Montemayor at The (Bonner Springs-Edwardsville) Chieftain on June 8, with mention of SABR members Tim Rives and Larry Lester:

Before David Wingfield could make it to professional baseball, he had to kill a man first.

Roy Tyler participated in a lethal race riot. Joe Fleet broke into a home. Albert Street was booked for cocaine possession.

For each, the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth in the 1920s became the site of their first experience playing baseball. Hours spent practicing and playing for the prison’s all-black team, the Booker T. Washingtons, led to opportunities in the Negro Leagues.

The four are the subject of “From the Big House to the Big Leagues,” a presentation at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, at Shawnee Town Museum (in Kansas).

It began as a side project for the event’s speaker, Eisenhower Presidential Library director Tim Rives. He said he became interested in Leavenworth prison records while working for Kansas City’s branch of the National Archives.

What Rives — a self-professed fan of obscure sports information — discovered were four stories that began tumultuously, had their brushes with success (or further trouble) and eventually ended mysteriously.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: June 8, 2011. Last Updated: June 8, 2011.