INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Indians will hit the diamond to honor a special part of the city’s baseball history. They are nearing the end of a six-day homestand, and are preparing to take the field in vintage jerseys, spotlighting the Negro Leagues.
Organizers say this is a chance to honor an important piece of history and to remember those black players who were able to break in to the major leagues, but also a chance to honor the players who never got that chance.
When you have a love for the game, even segregation can’t break it. For hundreds of Negro League players, that rang true. Despite it all, countless players have solidified their spot in history.
“But it’s also an opportunity for other people to learn about the Negro Leagues like Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige, Hank Aaron. All those big names that you see in baseball–they started out in the Negro leagues,” said Clarence Bellamy.
He and his wife, Diane Bellamy, married 52 years ago. And early on, both were drawn to the thrill of Negro League baseball. So, they felt that same excitement learning the Indianapolis Indians would pay tribute to players of the past.
“So we wanted to see what this was going to be like, and so we’re here today with our tickets that we just purchased,” said Diane.
The first Negro Leagues formed in the 1920s, a time when Black players weren’t allowed to play in the minor and major leagues. The Indianapolis ABCs played in the very first games, then came the Indianapolis Clowns years later.
“It’s a chance to celebrate those individuals–to recognize the greats that started in the Negro Leagues– or those who maybe got the chance in Major League Baseball and those who didn’t,” said Cheyne Reiter of the Indianapolis Indians.
The current Indianapolis Indian players will take to the field Saturday night in vintage clown jerseys. Throughout the game, Negro League facts, spotlighting the ABCS and Clowns, will be displayed across the field’s screens. Old photos and artifacts will also be displayed on the screens.
“I could go on and on for the guys who got a chance in the major leagues. [Oscar] Charleston never got the opportunity, but he was one of the best,” Reiter said. “They said he was a blend of Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Honus Wagner.”
The Bellamys say when baseball integrated, fans would often still have to sit separate. Now, they have the right to experience the game and soak it all in.
“Now, we have an opportunity to sit in the front row and see it all,” Diane said.