Dick Allen, James Grant, Kenny Lofton, Eddie Murray and J.R. Richard will be inducted into the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum's fifth "Hall of Game" class on June 9.Established by the Kansas City museum in 2014, the Hall of Game recognizes players who "competed with the same passion, determination, skill and
Dick Allen, James Grant, Kenny Lofton, Eddie Murray and J.R. Richard will be inducted into the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum's fifth "Hall of Game" class on June 9.
Established by the Kansas City museum in 2014, the Hall of Game recognizes players who "competed with the same passion, determination, skill and flair exhibited by the heroes of the Negro Leagues."
The NLBM will also present the Jackie Robinson Lifetime Achievement Award, the recipient of which will be the namesake's daughter. Sharon Robinson will receive the accolade for "career excellence in the face of adversity," as she serves as MLB's educational consultant and manages Breaking Barriers, a baseball-themed national character education curriculum that helps empower students facing obstacles.
The five Hall of Game honorees also will receive permanent recognition as part of the future Buck O'Neil Education and Research Center being developed by the museum at the site of the Paseo YMCA, the birthplace of the Negro Leagues.
"We're thrilled to honor five former MLB greats this year in honor of our fifth Hall of Game anniversary," said Bob Kendrick, who has served as the NLBM President since 2011. "These men were truly captivating to watch every time they took the field, and they played with the same spirit, passion and hustle as the men who made the Negro Leagues so special."
Allen, a first baseman, third baseman and left fielder, was the National League Rookie of the Year Award winner in 1964. He was a seven-time All-Star and earned the American League Most Valuable Player Award in '72 for leading the AL in home runs (37), RBIs (113), walks (99) and OPS (1.023). Allen was added to the Phillies' Wall of Fame at Citizens Bank Park in '94.
Grant was the first black pitcher to both win 20 games in an AL season and to win a World Series game for the AL. The two-time All-Star was The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year in 1965 after going 21-7 for the Twins, helping to lead Minnesota to the World Series.
Lofton broke the all-time record for an AL rookie by stealing 66 bases for the Indians in 1992. The center fielder racked up four AL Gold Glove Awards to complement his six All-Star appearances. Lofton completed his 17-year career playing for 11 franchises, helping the Indians win six division titles in the nine-and-a-half seasons he spent in Cleveland.
Murray was inducted into the Hall of Fame on his first ballot in 2003 after playing in 21 MLB seasons. Considered one of the best first basemen to play the game, Murray garnered three Gold Glove Awards and three Silver Slugger Awards en route to eight All-Star Game appearances. Murray is just the third player in history to reach 500 homers and 3,000 hits, following Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.
Richard led the NL in strikeouts (303) in 1978 and ERA (2.71) in 1979. The right-hander won at least 18 games in each season between '76 and '79. Richard earned a sole All-Star nod in '80 before suffering a career-ending stroke in July of that year.
"Each of these players were phenomenal athletes who achieved remarkable stats and records," Kendrick said. "Buck O'Neil once said of the Negro Leagues that fans couldn't go to the concession stands because they were afraid they'd miss something they'd never seen before. That's how these guys played. Fans couldn't take their eyes off them because they might miss an incredible play. This year's honorees embody that wonderful Negro Leagues spirit, and we are delighted to welcome them as our fifth induction class of our Hall of Game."
The event will also include a full day of activities, highlighted by a news conference, a VIP meet-and-greet and a reception and dinner at the NLBM followed by Hall of Game ceremonies at the Gem Theater.
Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.