2004-08-13 / Sports

Brooklyn Cyclones Salute Negro League Players

Pictured from left to right are Armando Vazquez, hitting coach Donovan Mitchell (wearing a Brooklyn Royal Giants jersey), and Jim Robinson.
Pictured from left to right are Armando Vazquez, hitting coach Donovan Mitchell (wearing a Brooklyn Royal Giants jersey), and Jim Robinson. The Brooklyn Cyclones hosted a Negro League Tribute on Saturday, August 7th. The Cyclones wanted to honor the Negro League players who never truly received the national recognition for being the great athletes they were.

There was a special pre-game reception and ceremony to pay tribute to former Negro League players, Jim Robinson and Armando Vazquez. On field, the Cyclones players wore Brooklyn Royal Giants jerseys which were auctioned off throughout the game. The Royal Giants were organized in 1905 by the owner of the popular.

The Giants won championships in 1909, 1910, 1914 and 1916. Their pitching staff featured the unstoppable duo of Hall of Fame “Smokey” Joe Williams, also known as “The Cyclone,” and “Cannonball” Dick Redding.

“The Negro League players had a tremendous impact on baseball.  They broke barriers and paved the way for so many future athletes. We were honored to pay tribute to them here in Brooklyn,” said Steve Cohen, General Manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones.

In the early 1900’s, blacks were excluded from Major League Baseball, and formed their own league. In 1920 the Negro National League was officially born and two years later the Eastern Black League was formed. The players of these Negro Leagues left their mark on baseball and American society.

They popularized bunting, stealing,

and aggressive play. Batting helmets were introduced to the Negro League after Willie Mays was hit in the head, as was night baseball because the Negro Leagues were itinerant and had rain delays. And through the sport, the Negro Leagues helped to break down racial barriers across the country.

Jim Robinson, Armando Vazquez and many other black baseball heroes went unnoticed by white America until 1947 when the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson. He broke the color barrier and opened Major League Baseball to all men. Jackie Robinson was the first Negro League player to make the transition and he was followed that same year by Larry Doby and Monte Irvin when they joined the Cleveland Indians and the New York Giants, respectively. In 1952, Hall of Fame player Hank Aaron was signed by the Boston Braves. The demise of the Negro Leagues was inevitable and young black players were signed by

white major league franchises. It is hard to imagine what baseball would be like today if Robinson had not paved the way and broken barriers.

The Brooklyn Cyclones honored the former Negro League players with a

pre-game reception in the Brooklyn Baseball Gallery with Jim Robinson,

Armando Vazquez and their families.  The reception was followed by a

ceremony in which a video on the history of the Negro League was shown

on the field. Armando and Jim both threw out pitches to start the game.

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