Rep. Scott offers ‘Negro Leagues Day’ bill honoring history of African Americans in baseball
State Rep. Helena Scott (D-Detroit) has introduced a bill designating May 2 of each year as “Negro Leagues Day.”
“I am honored to be introducing this legislation to declare May 2 of each year ‘Negro Leagues Day’ in Michigan,’” Scott told the Advance on Wednesday. “I want to recognize all of the outstanding Black athletes who stood up against racism, discrimination and prejudice, and came together to play the sport of baseball. Despite extreme challenges, they persevered and pursued greatness.”
Scott addressed her legislation, House Bill 4519, during a state House Governmental Operations Committee hearing on Wednesday.
The Negro National League was founded in 1920, with the Detroit Stars was one of its eight charter baseball teams. It was a time when Major League Baseball, America’s leading professional baseball organization, was a racially segregated institution where Black players and people of color were not allowed to participate.
The Detroit team was founded by John “Tenny” Blount with assistance from Andrew “Rube” Foster, who were both African American. Some of the Stars’ games during the 1930s were played at Hamtramck Stadium.
“I am proud to honor legends in this sport, such as Hall of Fame Center Fielder, Norman ‘Turkey’ Stearnes; Minnie Forbes, the only surviving owner of a Negro League team; someone especially close to my heart, my great-uncle Ron Teasley, who is the oldest surviving player from Michigan; along with all Negro League trailblazers,” Scott said. “Without the influence of these exceptional players and the Negro League, Major League Baseball wouldn’t be what it is today, and America wouldn’t be the country that it is today.”
Joyce Stearnes Thompson and Rosilyn Stearnes-Brown, daughters of Norman “Turkey” Stearnes, also attended the hearing and supported the bill. So does Lydia Teasley, daughter of 96-year-old Ron Teasley.
“This bill is important because May 2, 1920, was the first game ever played by the Negro Leagues,” said Lydia Teasley. “It introduced the newly formed league and brought equality to a game which was known as a ‘white’ sport.”
“From that day, legendary players were made, fans were very excited and came out in their best clothes, even some financial and political gains were achieved. May 2 must be passed to honor and celebrate the struggle and the stride of these amazing players,” Teasley added.