Happy New Year!!
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2022. It was 75 years ago this year that Jackie Robinson stepped onto the field in Brooklyn breaking MLB's color barrier. Just a little over 2 months later Larry Doby became the first African American player in the American League when Bill Veeck signed Doby to the Cleveland Indians. The Dodgers and the Indians were pioneering teams when it came to integration. By 1950 both teams had signed 4 Black players while there were only a dozen men of color signed across all of MLB. Jackie was joined by Dan Bankhead in August of 1947 followed by Roy Campanella in 1948 and Don Newcombe in '49. The Indians signed a 42 year old rookie named Satchel Paige in '48 (he was probably even older, but nobody knew Satchel's true age), followed by Minnie Miñoso and Luke Easter in 1949.
Monte Irvin and Minnie Miñoso were 2 of the first 10 players to integrate MLB. I'm thankful to have had the pleasure of interviewing them and enabling them to share their stories through The Other Boys of Summer. Both men were not only gracious and humble but they were charismatic and funny. When I first met Minnie he invited me to join him and some friends to go out dancing. Monte told me about his days playing in Newark, NJ for the Eagles and how he was initially considered to be the man to break the color barrier before he left for WWII. When I met Monte in 2007 he was already inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Minnie on the other hand was a fan favorite that hadn't received the necessary votes for induction. Last month Minnie finally received the nod and this summer he and Buck O'Neil will be enshrined in Cooperstown, where they both earned their place without question.
We plan to celebrate all of the trailblazers all year long by bringing The Other Boys of Summer to communities and organizations across America. We will do this in person when it's safe to gather and through our virtual program when we can't be there in person. The goal is to reach as many people as we can to continue to shine the spotlight on the unsung heroes of the Negro Leagues and provide the platform for the players to share their personal stories.
As each year passes and more and more players leave us. I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to have met many of the men and women of the Negro Leagues and I'm proud to have interviewed them so that their legacy may live on. Out of all of the players in the film only Pedro Sierra is still alive. Pedro's in his mid 80's and in good health. He continues to join us when possible and attends as many events as he can.
People always ask "where can I see the film?" The film is the centerpiece of our program and currently the only place to see it. Join me and getting the program out to as many people as we can this year. If you'd like to find out how to host a program or bring the program to your community or company you can email TheOtherBoysofSummer@gmail.com .