07/14/2011 5:18 PM ET
Tigers host ninth annual Negro Leagues Weekend
17th annual Negro Leagues tribute game this Saturday
DETROIT - The Detroit Tigers host the franchise's ninth annual Negro Leagues Weekend July 15-17 as the Tigers host the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. On Saturday, July 16 the Tigers will suit up wearing throwback uniforms of the Detroit Stars and the White Sox will suit up as the Chicago American Giants during the 17th Annual Negro Leagues Tribute Game. The Ninth Annual Negro Leagues Weekend marks the first - and longest running - three-day celebration of its kind in Major League Baseball.
The Detroit Tigers will pay tribute to several former Negro Leagues players as current and former Tigers players, as well as special guests, all come together for a weekend full of events celebrating the contributions of Negro Leagues players to the game of baseball.
The Detroit Tigers Foundation, an affiliate of Ilitch Charities, has partnered with a variety of local charities benefitting the Greater Detroit African American community for Friday and Saturday's 50/50 Charity raffle. The Detroit Tigers Foundation holds a 50/50 Charity raffle every Friday and Saturday home game throughout the season. Tickets are sold when the gates open until the end of the second inning throughout the concourse, at entry gates and at the 50/50 raffle table near Gate A. Tickets are three-for-$5, with the winning ticket announced after the sixth inning.
Friday, July 15 - Chicago White Sox @ 7:05 p.m. (Gates open at 5:00 p.m.)
- The national anthem will be performed by Joyce Stearnes Thompson and Rosilyn Norman Brown, daughters of Norman "Turkey" Stearnes, a Hall of Famer who was one of the Negro Leagues' most feared hitters and played for the Detroit Stars from 1923-31, 1933 and 1937, during a baseball career that lasted from 1920-45. In 2007, the Tigers unveiled a plaque recognizing Stearnes, who was a league leader in nearly every category. The plaque is located near the Gate C entrance at Comerica Park.
- Rhonda Walker, morning news anchor of WDIV, and Cary Stearnes, grandson of Norman "Turkey" Stearnes, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
- The Tigers have partnered with Radio One for the fifth annual Detroit Stars Singing Competition. The competition will be hosted by Fantasee Blu of Radio One and will take place at the Big Cat Court. The top 10 finalists will be judged by celebrity judges which includes Duke Fakir of The Four Tops, Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons, Rhonda Walker, the morning news anchor of WDIV, and model and actress Robin Givens. The winner will receive $1,000 and the opportunity to sing the national anthem at a Detroit Tigers home game.
- The Tigers are continuing their celebration of African Americans and their numerous contributions to the game of baseball with a pregame ceremony. The ceremony will include the "Passing of the Bat" ceremony featuring Lawrence Herron, a standout center fielder from Kalamazoo Central High School. Others participating in the ceremony include Willie Horton, Rod Allen, Austin Jackson, former Negro Leagues player Gene Johnson and 15 baseball players from the Southfield Youth Baseball League representing the Play Baseball Detroit program. Established in 2008, Play Baseball Detroit is a comprehensive urban youth baseball outreach program dedicated to encouraging and supporting youth baseball and softball programs in the greater Detroit community.
Saturday, July 16 - Chicago White Sox @ 4:10 p.m. (Gates open at 2:00 p.m.)
- The first 10,000 fans will receive a Detroit Stars Flat Bill Cap, courtesy of Comerica Bank.
- The Brazeal Dennard Chorale will perform the national anthem. The Brazeal Dennard Chorale was founded in 1972 and is one of the oldest African American choral organizations in the country.
- Several former Negro Leagues players will participate in a Q&A Roundtable from 2:20 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the Main Concourse, near the Big Bat Court. Dick Clark, co-editor of The Negro Leagues Book, published in 1994 by The Society for American Baseball Research, and Louis Manley Jr., co-founder of the Michigan Chapter of Negro Leagues Baseball Players will also serve as panelists. The Q&A Roundtable will be hosted by John Mason of Mason Radio on 107.5FM.
- The Tigers will pay tribute to 12 former Negro Leagues players during a special pregame ceremony which includes Frank Crosson, Joe Douse, Melvin "Buck" Duncan, Minnie Forbes, Harold "Bee-Bop" Gordon, Bill Hall, Gene Johnson, Alton King, James "Bullet" Moore, Pedro Sierra, Ron "Schoolboy" Teasley and Johnny Walker.
- The Comerica Bank Charitable Foundation will present The Brazeal Dennard Chorale with a charitable contribution during the pregame ceremony.
- The Tigers will honor former Negro Leagues player Cecil Kaiser with a moment of silence.
Former Negro Leagues Players Appearing
- Frank Crosson - A pitcher for the Memphis Red Sox and former roommate of 1956 Negro League All-Star Charley Pride.
- Joe Douse - A pitcher for the Kansas City Monarchs, 1952-1953. While with the Monarchs, he struck out 15 Memphis Red Birds during one game.
- Melvin "Buck" Duncan - From 1949-56, he pitched for the Kansas City Monarchs and the Detroit Stars. Before his Negro League career, he posted a 19-1 record while pitching for the United States Army baseball team.
- Minnie Forbes - She was the fourth woman to play in the Negro Leagues when she played third base for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1958. She was a secretary for the Grand Rapids Black Six, Detroit Stars and Kansas City Monarchs before becoming only the third woman to own a Negro Leagues team when she became owner of the Detroit Stars in 1956.
- Harold "Bee-Bop" Gordon - A member of the Chicago American Giants, the longest continuous franchise in Negro Leagues history, from 1950-51. He also pitched in the 1954 Negro Leagues All-Star Game as a member of the Detroit Stars.
- Bill Hall - He pitched for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1955 and was named the Negro Leagues East/West All-Star. He went on to play in the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Giants farm systems.
- Gene Johnson - Played both first and third base for the Detroit Stars from 1956-57. He was selected to play in the East/West All-Star Game in 1956.
- Alton King - Played shortstop in 1940 for the Zulu Cannibal Giants. He came to Detroit in 1942 and played with the Motor City Giants from 1942-45 as their player manager and was also a part of the Detroit Wolves from 1946-49.
- James "Bullet" Moore - A valuable utility player for the Detroit Stars, Motor City Giants and Detroit Brown Bombers.
- Pedro Sierra - Pitched for the Indianapolis Clowns and Detroit Stars and participated in the East/West All-Star Game in 1955. He went on to play in the Minnesota Twins and Washington Senators organizations.
- Ron "Schoolboy" Teasley - A Detroit native, he played for the Detroit Cubs, Toledo Cubs, Toledo Crawfords, Toledo Rays, Detroit Wolves and New York Cubans from 1938-48. He is a member of Wayne State University's Hall of Fame and has worked for 20 years as an educator and baseball coach at Northwestern High School in Detroit.
- Johnny Walker - Played second base for the Grand Rapids Black Sox, Detroit Stars and Kansas City Monarchs from 1957-61.