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ESPN to host live Negro League game

Willie Mays named honorary host for Feb. 26 event
February 24, 2006
On Sunday, February 26, as part of ESPN's Black History Month initiatives, ESPN Classic will produce and televise ESPN Classic Vintage Live: Negro League Baseball. The live game -- played at historic Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala. (the nation's oldest ballpark) -- will celebrate the rich heritage and tradition of the Negro Leagues and their role in the history of both baseball and the African-American community.

The game will pit the Birmingham Black Barons -- representing the famous Negro League team of the same name, against the Bristol Barnstormers -- representing the barnstorming teams of the 1940s. Both teams' amateur rosters will feature former collegiate and minor league players that will compete using equipment, and wearing uniforms, that replicate the late-1940s period in baseball.

The event will include special game host Willie Mays, one of the few surviving former Black Barons players. Other former Negro League players, including country music great and former Negro League player Charley Pride, will provide first-hand knowledge of the important legacy of the Negro Leagues in baseball history. Former Gold Glove major leaguer George Scott (Red Sox, Brewers) will serve as manager for the Black Barons, and former New York Yankees pitcher and Ball Four author Jim Bouton will be the Barnstormers manager.

"Without knowing its history, the present day sports landscape cannot be fully appreciated" said Jodi Markley, senior vice president, International Production, ESPN Classic and ESPNEWS. "ESPN Classic is very proud to bring fans an event that will celebrate an important social, cultural and sports institution. It will help sports fans of today connect with the heritage of Negro Leagues baseball."

Former major leaguer Billy Sample and play-by-play announcer Eric Collins will call the game, joined in the booth by musician and guest commentator Chuck D. ESPN's George Smith will serve as the on-field reporter.

Tickets for the game are available in advance at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium (home of the Double-A Birmingham Barons) and on game day at Rickwood Field (site of the game and home of the original Birmingham Black Barons).

Vintage Live: Negro League Baseball is the second live vintage sporting event created and telecast by ESPN Classic. In July 2004, the network telecast a vintage baseball game from historic Waconah Park in Pittsfield, Mass., between the Pittsfield Hillies and the Hartford Senators, which was played in accordance with late 1800's rules and equipment.