Tigers to tab Negro Leaguer Kaiser
Special selection to take place before First-Year Player Draft
The Tigers will take part in Major League Baseball's ceremonial Negro Leagues Player Draft next week by selecting former Detroit Stars pitcher Cecil Kaiser, as part of the organization's effort to keep alive the memory of Negro Leagues players and the contributions they made to modern-day players.
Prior to next week's First-Year Player Draft, every Major League team will honor those who played in the Negro Leagues by selecting a surviving former player. The ceremonial Draft is a way to remember those who had the ability but not the opportunity to play in the big leagues.
The First-Year Player Draft follows at 2 p.m. with a simulcast of ESPN2's broadcast of the first round and compensation picks. The remaining rounds on Day 1 will be shown on BaseballChannel.TV, with live analysis on site from MLB.com Draft guru Jonathan Mayo and David Rawnsley of Perfect Game USA.
Kaiser got his start with the Stars in the early 1940s before pitching for the Motor City Giants. He moved on to western Pennsylvania to join the great Homestead Grays in 1945.
Kaiser proved to be a durable, effective pitcher with the Grays. He tossed 13 2/3 scoreless innings over a five-game span in 1947, starting two games and pitching in the other three out of the bullpen.
Like many other Negro Leagues players, Kaiser also played in Latin America in the offseason as a way to supplement his income and compete year-round. By the end of his career in the 1950s, he had starred in the Puerto Rican Winter League and pitched for teams in Cuba, Panama, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Kaiser has been a regular participant each summer for the Tigers' annual Negro Leagues weekend, beginning in 2003.
"Major League Baseball is thrilled to host this distinguished group that helped author one of the most important chapters in baseball history, the Negro Leagues," said Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB's executive vice president for baseball operations.
Several of the top amateur prospects are expected in attendance in Orlando for Day 1 of the Draft, and each of the 30 Major League clubs will be represented by front office executives and baseball luminaries. Fans are welcome to attend Day 1 of the Draft, and admission to The Milk House is free with seating limited to a first-come, first-served basis.
Day 2 on June 6 will get under way at 11:30 a.m. and continue through Round 50, if necessary. Every pick on Day 2 can be heard live at MLB.com.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.