Whirty: Detroit Negro League star William Binga gets a legacy boost from Grave Marker Project

From SABR member Ryan Whirty at Hour Detroit on April 16, 2014:

William H. Binga’s place in the historical baseball firmament has been nebulous, even lost. Especially in death. The African-American Detroit native played America’s pastime during the first few decades of the 20th century at a time when the sport was rigidly segregated. Black players were forced to compete on independent, barnstorming teams and, eventually, organized circuits — the Negro Leagues — that paralleled those of so-called “organized baseball.”

Binga’s fate was made even more tragic by the fact that he was buried in an unmarked Minnesota grave for more than six decades, a forgotten hardball star who fell victim to both institutionalized bigotry and a hand-to-mouth existence that left him mired in poverty at the time of his death in 1950.

But Binga’s legacy is being resurrected by a group of dedicated, passionate devotees of the Negro Leagues and other pre-integration, African-American teams. Their efforts take on extra significance April 15, when the nation celebrates Jackie Robinson Day.

As part of the Negro League Baseball Grave Marker Project (NLBGMP), Detroit native Binga will finally receive a simple marker at his burial site. Leading the way has been NLBGMP member Peter Gorton, who says that with the placement of the gravestone, Binga the baseball player will now be remembered, at least in some small way.

Read the full article here: http://www.hourdetroit.com/Hour-Detroit/April-2014/Hes-No-Longer-Forgotten/

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Originally published: April 17, 2014. Last Updated: April 17, 2014.