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MiLB pays homage to the Negro Leagues in June

Rickwood Field is one of the many celebrations across the Minors
June 6, 2024

On June 18, America's oldest professional ballpark will host a Double-A game between the Montgomery Biscuits and Birmingham Barons with MiLB at Rickwood Field: A Tribute to the Negro Leagues. This game, with Montgomery suiting up as the Gray Sox and Birmingham playing as the Black Barons, will kick off

On June 18, America's oldest professional ballpark will host a Double-A game between the Montgomery Biscuits and Birmingham Barons with MiLB at Rickwood Field: A Tribute to the Negro Leagues. This game, with Montgomery suiting up as the Gray Sox and Birmingham playing as the Black Barons, will kick off festivities in Birmingham that will culminate with a Major League game between the Cardinals and Giants on June 20.

While Rickwood Field takes its deserving place in the center of the baseball world that week, there are dozens of other Negro Leagues tributes occuring around Minor League Baseball this month. In fact, even the Barons have another tribute planned -- a Salute to the Negro Leagues over three straight games from June 13-15 (tickets here).

On Friday, June 14, Birmingham will don special Black Barons jerseys. On Saturday, June 15, the club welcomes George Foster to Regions Field to take part in the Salute to the Negro Leagues. Foster was a five-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion with the Cincinnati Reds club best known as the "Big Red Machine." He finished his 18-year career with the White Sox in 1986.

Here's a look at what some other clubs are doing to pay homage to the Negro Leagues this month. To be clear, this is not a complete list -- check your local team's promo schedule to see what's on tap in your area.

T-Town Clowns (Tulsa Drillers, Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers) - June 14
Beginning in 2010, the Tulsa Drillers have staged an annual tribute to the T-Town Clowns, a semi-pro entity that competed from 1946-65. Two seasons ago was particularly special, as the team’s players took the field in T-Town Clowns uniforms for the first time. That will continue for the third straight season. The Drillers’ home of ONEOK Field is located in Tulsa’s Greenwood District, a prosperous neighborhood known as “Black Wall Street” that was decimated by a horrific race massacre in 1921. Get tickets »

Durham Black Sox (Durham Bulls, Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays) - June 14
The Bulls will pay tribute to the former Negro League teams of Durham by donning special Durham Black Sox jerseys and hats. The Black Sox were one of several Negro Leagues teams that played in the city of Durham, along with the Durham Eagles and Durham Rams, from the 1920s through 1963. Get tickets »

Greenville Black Spinners (Greenville Drive, High-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox) - June 15
Greenville and the Upstate region has a rich baseball history. Everyone knows the stories of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and others, including Tommy Lasorda, Nolan Ryan, and Jim Rice. However, the lesser known stories include the Greenville Black Spinners, St. Anthony’s, and Sterling High School -- teams that also utilized Mayberry Park and Meadowbrook Park. Mayberry Park, which sat just beyond the outfield wall of Meadowbrook Park, was built in the 1920s for Black children at a time they were not allowed to play in the city’s segregated parks. Get tickets »

Fresno Tigers (Fresno Grizzlies, Single-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies) - June 15
Not much is known about the Fresno Tigers, who competed in the six-team West Coast Negro League in 1946. The Grizzlies, seeking to educate fans about this chapter of their city’s baseball history, played a game as the Tigers in 2022. There weren’t any photos of the Tigers in action, so the Grizzlies created logos and uniforms based on a modern interpretation of what the team might look like. Get tickets »

Jacksonville Red Caps (Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, Triple-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins) - June 15
The Jacksonville Red Caps played in the Negro American League in 1938 and from 1941-42 at Durkee Field in Jacksonville. Meanwhile, the Redbirds took part by donning the identity of the team's sister club from Akron, the Black Tyrites. The Black Tyrites were one of the top independent Negro League teams in 1933. Josh Gibson, who played for the Red Caps, is considered one of the best best power hitters and catchers in baseball history. Despite never playing in the Major Leagues, he became the second Negro Leagues player to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. Get tickets »

Salt Lake Occidentals (Salt Lake Bees, Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels) - June 21
The Occidentals were formed in Salt Lake in 1906 and quickly established themselves as one of the best teams in the western United States. They joined the otherwise all-white Utah State League in 1908 and the following season took home a league championship. When the Salt Lake Bees played as the Occidentals last season, they did so wearing uniforms that were inspired by contemporary newspaper accounts. Get tickets »

Hartford Schoolboys (Hartford Yard Goats, Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies) - June 29
For the second straight season, the Yard Goats will honor legendary Negro Leagues pitcher -- and Hartford native -- Johnny "Schoolboy" Taylor. In his senior year at Hartford's Bulkeley High School in 1934, Taylor set a Connecticut state record with 25 strikeouts in a single game against New Britain High School. That caught the attention of Major League scouts. Of course, this was before Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947, and baseball's unwritten agreement against white teams signing Black players limited Taylor's options. The hurler opted to join the semi-pro Hartford Twilight Baseball League. Get tickets »

Other Negro Leagues Celebrations across the Minors:
Inland Empire 66ers - June 7 Get tickets »
Rocket City Trash Pandas - June 8 Get tickets »
Chattanooga Lookouts - June 14 Get tickets »
Rochester Red Wings - June 14 Get tickets »
Harrisburg Senators - June 15 Get tickets »
Frisco RoughRiders - June 16 Get tickets »
Charlotte Knights - June 19 Get tickets »
Pensacola Blue Wahoos - June 19 Get tickets »
Nashville Sound - June 19 Get tickets »
Indianapolis Indians - June 22 Get tickets »
Charleston RiverDogs - June 22 Get tickets »
Norfolk Tides - June 28 Get tickets »
Richmond Flying Squirrels - June 29 Get tickets »

Rob Terranova is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobTnova24.