Whirty: Negro League players fading, but Ted Toles hopes legacy remains

From SABR member Ryan Whirty at Cleveland.com on February 26, 2015, with mention of SABR members Michael Swank, Wayne Pearsall, and Stephanie Liscio:

Even as a book remembering and celebrating his life and career in the Negro Leagues hits the stands, Ted Toles Jr., at 89 years old, is part of a rapidly-dwindling number of people with a direct link to the issues of segregation and inequity that necessitated the creation of those parallel, African-American baseball organizations that existed in the shadows of “organized baseball.”

And it’s not just influential black athletes that Toles sees slipping away, almost on a daily basis, into history. Toles, a former member of the Negro American League’s Cleveland Buckeyes, notes, for example, the recent passing in September of his buddy, George Shuba, whose open-hearted handshake with Jackie Robinson after the latter crushed a home run in his minor-league debut in 1946 served as a bellwether for gradually advancing racial tolerance.

Toles largely missed the Negro Leagues’ “glory years” in the early 1940s, coming along too late to play side-by-side with eventual Hall of Famers Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Leon Day and Ray Dandridge. But although Toles played in the Negro Leagues in the late 1940s and early 1950s, as the hallowed African-American hardball institutions crumbled, he was able to take part in one of the most society-shifting changes made in America in the 20th century — the integration of organized baseball.

Read the full article here: http://www.cleveland.com/tribe/index.ssf/2015/02/negro_league_players_fading_bu.html

Originally published: February 26, 2015. Last Updated: February 26, 2015.