Local News

Players From Baseball's Negro League Still Await Their Pensions

Posted June 29, 2001 4:38 a.m. EDT

— Some old-time baseball players are still looking for a win. Former players of the

Negro Baseball League

continue to rally like the teams they played for many years ago.

In the 1920s, men of color were not allowed to play in the majors. That is how the Negro League came to be.

"I played the game. I loved the game. I would have played for nothing," says Birmingham Black Barons' Carl Long.

Former players will be visiting Wal-Mart stores in Fayetteville this weekend to sign baseballs and baseball cards on behalf of the new Yesterday's Negro League Baseball Player Company. Proceeds from the sale of its merchandise will go toward the players' pensions.

Mamie Peanut Johnson of the Indianapolis Clowns was one of just three women in the league.

"I deserve a pension because I was a ballplayer and just as good as anyone else," she says.

In the early 1990s, the commissioner of Major League Baseball ordered that the Negro League players receive pensions, but the criteria were controversial and not all players were eligible.

The new company is not only about getting the players the money they feel they have earned, but also about educating the younger generation -- children who take to these fields today.

"It's important to the 200 men still living, because our history has been distorted, covered up and swept under the rug ever since the inception of Jackie Robinson," says Dennis "Bose" Biddle of the Chicago American Giants.

Sgt. Edward Johnson has followed their history, because for him, the players stand for more than just the game.

"If you want something, you are going to go for it and if you are the best, nothing's going to stop you, so that's what these guys represent," he says.

The Negro League has a contract pending with Wal-Mart to sell the merchandise in its stores. It is expected to be test-marketed soon in the Fayetteville area.