It’s not every day that college students get an opportunity to wear history, but that is just what Kentucky State University baseball players were planning to do Wednesday until Mother Nature intervened with a rare late April measurable snowfall.
Brothers Michael and Darnell Carter, of Dayton, Ohio, arranged to loan their collection of more than 50 authentic replica Negro League baseball jerseys to the Thorobreds during their game against Georgetown College in the Jackie Robinson/Negro Leagues game. When the Tigers backed out, KSU decided to make it an intrasquad scrimmage, but that too was nixed due to the weather.
While the game didn’t materialize, the idea of celebrating and honoring players of the past for their contributions is a great way to introduce student-athletes — especially those at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) — to the history behind the game. It fits right in with K-State coach Rob Henry’s philosophy.
“In our program, we talk a lot about who came before you. We have nameplates over our lockers so they can see the names of players who were here before,” he told The State Journal.
“This is a much more global scale of players who came before and made a difference, people who sacrificed all those years ago so they can play this great game we love.”
The Negro League jersey project reminds us of when the Frankfort High School boys basketball team honored the city’s former African American high school, Mayo-Underwood, in 2019 by wearing its jerseys. FHS planned the event for the first game in February to kick off Black History Month. Mayo-Underwood was opened in the late 1920s and closed in 1956.
In that game, then-FHS player DaJuan Davis wore his great-grandfather Henry Davis’ (Mayo-Underwood Class of 1953) number, and both the elder Davis and Frederick Green (MU Class of 1954) were recognized.
Both projects, which bridge history with athletics, remind us of the importance of embracing our heritage and never forgetting where we came from.
“Not to be cheered by praise, not to be grieved by blame, but to know thoroughly one’s own virtues or powers are the characteristics of an excellent man,” said Satchel Paige, who is considered one of the greatest Negro League players of all time.