The Rochester Red Wings are planning a special tribute in June as part of the national celebration going on this year to mark the 100th anniversary of Negro Leagues baseball.
Both Major and Minor League Baseball this year are recognizing the contributions of Negro League players to the game of baseball and to also provide some historic perspective.
In Rochester, the Red Wings are planning a special celebration on June 19, with a tribute to the Rochester American Giants. They were a team of black players who played in Rochester in 1948.
Red Wings General Manager Dan Mason said it’s important for fans to be aware of the history of the Negro Leagues.
“We really hope to use this night to inform and educate our fans about the Rochester American Giants but also the Negro Leagues in general and we’ll be very fortunate to have a couple of former Negro League players here that fans can talk with and get an autograph from,” Mason said.
And local sports writer and historian Scott Pitoniak said the Negro Leagues also need to be remembered for their impact on a segregated society.
“The Negro Leagues themselves really, laid the foundation for the integration of baseball, and in a larger sense, the integration of America in so many other institutions.” And Pitoniak noted that the history of black baseball players in the U.S. goes back to the 19th century in Rochester.
“We’re talking post-Civil War; Frederick Douglass’s son was a prominent baseball player. He went down and played with a team in Washington D.C. that was one of the best black teams of the era,” Pitoniak said.
On June 19, the Red Wings players will also be wearing replica jerseys honoring the Rochester American Giants.