An honorary exhibition baseball game recognizing Negro League Baseball returns to Sacramento following a successful event last year.
Perfect Game Pitching Solutions founder Todd Sullivan organizes the friendly competition to help preserve the history of Negro League Baseball and simultaneously increase the exposure of Black and Latino baseball prospects in Sacramento.
Last year, nearly 400 people visited Sutter Health Park to watch some of the region’s top players compete in a seven-inning showcase.
“Sacramento is such a lively predominant baseball town and has developed so much baseball talent,” said Sullivan. “It’s important for me to let people know in our community how proud we should all be about the baseball players that are here, especially the Black baseball players.”
Some of Sacramento’s previous prospects who have gone on to play or coach Major League Baseball will participate in the game as volunteer coaches.
Players will don replica jerseys representing the Homestead Grays and the Chicago American Giants, two teams from Negro League Baseball.
The coaching staff includes: Leon Lee, Leron Lee, and Derrek Lee for the Chicago American Giants. As for the Homestead Grays, the staff consists of Jerry Royster, Danny Royster, Danny Royster Jr., and Ryan Royster.
The game will be held on Sunday at Sacramento State’s John Smith baseball field, with doors opening at noon. The game is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Tickets cost $10 and kids under age 10 can attend for free.
Prior to the first pitch of the game, former Negro League Baseball players will be honored.
Honorees include James “Jim” Cobbin who played for the New York Black Yankees and Indianapolis Clowns from 1956 to 1958 and Dennis Biddle who played for the Chicago American Giants in 1953, at just 17-years-old.
Don Porter, a former Negro League player who is now a Sacramento resident, was honored last year and will be in attendance for the game this year.
Guest speakers include, Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro League Baseball Museum and Dave Stewart, a three-time world champion with the Oakland A’s, Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays.
Sullivan has high hopes for this year’s event as he looks to invite special guests to Sacramento as spectators of the game, in hopes they could one day become sponsors for future events.
“There’s going to be some Major League Baseball representatives coming to the event,” said Sullivan. “If it’s as big and as good as the first, and this one should be, then (hopefully) they want to jump on board and become sponsors and keep this game going every year here in Sacramento.”
Sullivan said that proceeds from the game will go toward the Negro League Baseball Museum and the Negro League Baseball Players Foundation started by Biddle.
The Negro League began in 1920 and was discontinued in the early 1960s. The League lasted 13 years after Jackie Robinson was recruited from the Kansas City Monarchs to the Brooklyn Dodgers in a move that integrated Major League Baseball in 1947.