Whirty: Remembering the Steelheads, Seattle’s Negro League team

From Ryan Whirty at Seattle Magazine on May 2, 2013, with mention of SABR member David Eskenazi:

On September 9, 1995, the Seattle Mariners took to the field at the Kingdome wearing plain white uniforms with dark blue trim. The word “Steelheads” emblazoned across the players’ chests was a complete surprise to many in the stands. The M’s were sporting replica jerseys of the pre-integration, African-American Seattle Steelheads baseball team, whose very existence had, until that moment, been largely relegated to historical obscurity.

On that day, teams across the Major League honored the surviving players from the Steelheads and other Negro league teams, who had toiled in the shadows of baseball before the gradual integration of the sport in the 1940s and ’50s. The old-timers on hand told the media that life in the Negro leagues could be grueling. When the team traveled across the country, the Steelheads struggled to find places to bunk overnight because white hotels refused to rent rooms to them.

Still, former Steelie Sherwood Brewer told The Seattle Times that the indignities were worth it. “I had a lot of fun,” Brewer said, “and if I had to do it again, I’d start tomorrow.”

Brewer, along with many of the other players honored that night, has since passed away. Today, 92-year-old Herb Simpson is believed to be the only remaining Steelhead.

Read the full article here: http://www.seattlemag.com/article/remembering-steelheads-seattles-negro-league-team

Originally published: May 2, 2013. Last Updated: May 2, 2013.