THE LEGACY OF NEGRO LEAGUE BASEBALL
Baseball fans worldwide admire, respect, and miss the days when the Memphis Redsox played hardball against the worlds best African-American baseball players at Dr. W.S. Martin Stadium. In 1924-1925, 1927-1930, 1932, 1937-1962 , Memphis Red Sox games were a fixture on Sunday afternoons after church. Recently the Bluff City played host to a reunion of Negro League baseball players. On hand to sign autographs, field questions, and provide insight on this unique era of professional sports was Memphian Joe B. Scott, outfielder with the Red Sox for nine seasons, Scott also played with the New York Black Yankees and Pittsburgh Crawfords, and in Canada. Joe B. In this Flyer
exclusive interview Scott articulates some of his memories of playing baseball in the Negro Leagues. For more details on Negro League Baseball log onto www.nlbpa.com and also check out www.ynlbpc.com.
Flyer: Talk about Martin Stadium, the home of many Memphis Red Sox games, What was the venue like?
: The stadium was beautiful, it seated about 8 thousand people, and the front entrance was on Iowa Street, which is now named Crump Blvd.
Flyer: Tell me about traveling in those days on buses for long periods of time without air conditioning, and modern luxuries?
: The bus driver was the mechanic, the bus would break down and be fixed by the driver / mechanic. We traveled all over Philadelphia, New York City; for example we would leave Memphis on Friday night after a ball game and drive all the way to New York to play a triple header... Two games in Yankee Stadium, and travel to play a single game that same night in Bushwick, New York.
Flyer: Talk about some of the great players you played against -- like Jackie Robinson, who played with the kansas City Monarchs and became the first African American Player in the Major League with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 10, 1947, Satchel Paige, and Josh Gibson, and the list goes on.
: I played with Satchel Paige six years in All-Star games where we played against mixed teams like the House of David. After the World Series we (Negro League All-Stars) would play the major league all stars.
Flyer: Can you recall any other standout players you remember competing against in the days of Negro League Baseball?
: A great memory is when I got a chance to play against Willie Mays when he come up. And, I would say hes one of the greatest outfielders of all-time. Mays was in high school and he joined the Birmingham Black Barons. We played in Huntsville, Alabama and he climbed a picket fence to get a line drive off of my bat. And I said kid you going to be a good ball player. Im about ten years older than Willie Mays.
Flyer: How special is it to see people in Memphis paying tribute to the Red Sox and the Negro League brand of professional baseball?
: Its wonderful. Im glad to see it happen. To bring history up to date, people can look back and say they didnt know this but now they know some parts of the history of the Negro League, which was one of the most powerful money making sports for team and stadium operations for owners.
Flyer: What do you tell young people about hard work paying off in sports and in life?
: Go to school everyday, learn something new everyday, stay in good company, and listen to your mother and father and when you go into sports listen to your coach and you can be a winner.
Flyer: What was the longest game you ever played in with the Memphis Red Sox?
: 14 innings in 1949 here in Memphis at Martin Stadium. In the bottom of the 14th inning I hit a home run to defeat the New York Cubans 1-0.