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Young players honor Negro Leagues in Chicago

White Sox home park hosts Double Duty Classic, featuring high school standouts from across USA
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- While the White Sox geared up for a game in Anaheim, Guaranteed Rate Field played host to the annual Double Duty Classic on Tuesday.

Named after Negro Leaguer Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, the event featured some of the best inner-city high school baseball players from across the country, while honoring the history of the Negro Leagues in Chicago. The high school players dressed in retro East-West All-Star uniforms, which paid homage to the Negro League All-Star game that was held regularly at Comiskey Park.

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CHICAGO -- While the White Sox geared up for a game in Anaheim, Guaranteed Rate Field played host to the annual Double Duty Classic on Tuesday.

Named after Negro Leaguer Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, the event featured some of the best inner-city high school baseball players from across the country, while honoring the history of the Negro Leagues in Chicago. The high school players dressed in retro East-West All-Star uniforms, which paid homage to the Negro League All-Star game that was held regularly at Comiskey Park.

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"It's a blessing to be in this game and celebrate the Negro Leagues," said Kendal Ewell, an outfielder from Marist High School and commit to Eastern Kentucky University. "Usually, for baseball, we're traveling around a lot, you know, in Georgia, Florida. This is right at home. You can invite anyone you want to here today. People can turn on the TV and watch the game."

Catcher and first baseman Angelo Cantelo of Marian Catholic High School won the Minnie Minoso Most Valuable Player Award, boosting the East team to an 11-10 victory.

Before the game, former White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye and Negro Leagues Museum president Bob Kendrick participated in a panel for the players discussing the legacy of the Negro Leagues in baseball today.

The panel, hosted by 670 AM The Score's Laurence Holmes, touched on Dye's playing experience growing up, the history of the East-West All-Star Game, and the stagnant growth of African-American numbers in youth baseball. Former Negro League players Dennis Biddle, Ray Knox and Ernie Westfield attended as well.

During the panel, Dye also spoke about the sacrifices made by Negro Leaguers and how they paved the way for him to play in the Majors.

"Everything they went through, I don't know if I'd be able to do that today," Dye said. "Even today, there are tough cities to play in -- they'll say stuff to you and try to bring your game down. You've just got to block out things and perform."

For the Negro Leaguers to play baseball, "they had to love it just to endure the things they had to endure," Kendrick said. Kendrick added that he considers the Negro Leagues to be "a celebration of the power of human spirit, more than anything else."

Kendrick also told the players stories about the swagger that Negro Leaguers would play with, including in the 1942 Negro League World Series, when Satchel Paige purposely walked the bases loaded in order to face slugger Josh Gibson.

Per Kendrick, Paige heckled Gibson mercilessly in the at-bat, telling him where he'd throw each pitch, and then struck out Gibson looking on three pitches. That story, as well as Dye's advice to carry yourself professionally on the field, resonated with Ewell, the young outfielder said.

"I try to have a certain type of play style and carry myself a certain way, so that boosts my confidence in improving my game that way," Ewell said. "A lot of the younger kids who will watch the game look up to us, they see how we play and they'll probably take that and be inspired to play baseball."

Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

Chicago White Sox