Dusty salutes Josh Gibson, Negro Leagues

August 16th, 2020

Astros manager Dusty Baker ticks off the names with reverence: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Monte Irvin, Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell and Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe.

Through the years, Baker heard them tell stories of life in the Negro Leagues and came to appreciate not just their legacy in baseball, but their talent and their passion.

Perhaps no one in the sport can appreciate Major League Baseball’s commitment to celebrating the Negro Leagues and shining a light on its greatest players more than Baker.

For Sunday’s official commemoration of the 100th anniversary -- the Astros and Mariners wore patches on their uniforms -- Baker wore custom wristbands with the likeness of Josh Gibson, one of the Negro League’s greatest and most mythical figures.

“I'm just trying to educate my son [Darren] and his present generation the way that I was educated,” Baker said. “I'm very fortunate that people forced us to learn in order to pass it on to the next generation. I think it’s very appropriate that we're honoring them. Jim Gilliam would tell us stories. Don Newcombe told his stories. And Paul Casanova, who was the last guy to come to the Major Leagues from the Negro Leagues.

“I didn't know how fortunate I was to kind of be in-between generations. I feel very blessed to have listened to their stories. I mean, I’m not sure if half of them were true or not, but they made you laugh.”

Turning serious, Baker added, “On the other hand, you know they went through a lot to play baseball, and they loved baseball.”