Hilton Smith Award winner Jason Isringhausen among those attending the 2005 Legacy Awards.
Kansas City Star.
Posted on Sun, Jan. 09, 2005
Legacy Award winners awed
Negro Leagues event moves major leaguers
By JEFF PASSAN
The Kansas City Star
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum handed out its fifth annual Legacy Awards at the Gem Theater on Saturday, a night it announced a partnership with Warner Bros. to produce a four-hour miniseries.
Yankees slugger Gary Sheffield took home the night's final honor, the Oscar Charleston Award for most valuable player in the American League.
"It took me 20 years to get here," Sheffield said. "When I went through this museum, it touched me in a way like I never thought it would."
Sheffield's words echoed that of other honorees, including Oakland shortstop Bobby Crosby for the Larry Doby Award as AL rookie of the year, St. Louis closer Jason Isringhausen for the Hilton Smith Award as National League closer of the year, St. Louis general manager Walt Jocketty and Minnesota GM Terry Ryan for the Rube Foster Award as executive of the year, and Texas manager Buck Showalter for the C.I. Taylor Award as AL manager of the year.
"This was a trip you have to make," Jocketty said. "It's absolutely moving going through here. Everyone's heard of Cool Papa Bell and Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson, but Oscar Charleston - it's amazing how good these players were."
Warner Bros. plans to honor that in fall 2006 with a miniseries that chronicles the history of the Negro Leagues, said Dick Robertson, head of the television company's domestic distribution.
"I don't know if it will have high ratings, and I don't know what people will think about it," Robertson said, "but I can promise you this: It'll tell the truth."
Plenty of that came out Saturday night.
Comedian Arnez J emceed the show along with actress Vivica A. Fox, him cracking jokes, her laughing and the audience rolling along. Presenters included Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins and Kansas Citians Joe Carter and Rick Sutcliffe.
On Saturday afternoon, the museum presented Isringhausen, Showalter, Ryan and Jocketty leather jackets featuring the logos of Negro Leagues teams on the back.
Showalter told the story of his first job managing in the New York-Penn League, and how his father, an old-time baseball manager of an all-black team on the Florida-Alabama border, wanted to meet Cool Papa Bell before anyone else.
"I'm almost embarrassed about my lack of knowledge," Showalter said.
When the Rangers come to Kansas City on June 3-5, Showalter said, he plans to rent a bus, board his players and take them to the museum.
Other winners not in attendance included: Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford and Chicago White Sox outfielder Scott Podsednik for the Bell Award; San Diego shortstop Khalil Greene for the Doby Award; Seattle outfielder Ichiro Suzuki for the Buck Leonard Award; Houston pitcher Roger Clemens and Minnesota pitcher Johan Santana for the Satchel Paige Award; Boston outfielder Manny Ramirez and Seattle third baseman Adrian Beltre for the Josh Gibson Award; New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and Florida closer Armando Benitez for the Hilton Smith Award; St. Louis manager Tony La Russa for the Smith Award; Barry Bonds for the Charleston and Leonard awards; and Rachel Robinson, wife of Jackie Robinson, for the Jackie Robinson Award.
© 2005 Kansas City Star and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
Legacy winners given tour by O'Neil
01/08/2005 7:12 PM ET
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- Terry Ryan, general manager of the Twins, had been at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum many times. For Walt Jocketty, the Cardinals' general manager, it was the first visit.
Both were effusive in their praise for the institution which is continuing to grow in stature worldwide.
Ryan and Jocketty toured the museum Saturday before receiving the Rube Foster Award as executives of the year in their respective leagues at the fifth annual Legacy Awards ceremonies. They were joined by museum chairman Buck O'Neil.
"As a baseball person, this is about as good as it gets. The history and respect for what players went through," Ryan said.
"Obviously, I know Buck, I see Gene Baker's picture in here, I knew Bob Thurman. There are people in this museum that I was fortunate to work around and have the ability to tap into. So that makes it that much more special for me."
Jocketty brought his 14-year-old son Joey with him to the museum at 18th and Vine in Kansas City.
"It's astounding," Jocketty said. "It's a great thing that Buck has worked so hard to develop and preserve this."
The museum's Bob Kendrick, who conducted the tour, pointed out many artifacts and narrated the history of the Negro Leagues.
Pointing to a statue of catcher Josh Gibson, Kendrick noted: "They called Josh Gibson 'the black Babe Ruth,' but some people called Ruth 'the white Josh Gibson.' "
O'Neil, 93, provided some antecdotes about his days in the leagues.
"In 1938, I got $100 a month and $1 a day meal money," O'Neil said. "I got ham and eggs and coffee for 25 cents. Then I could get a Kansas City steak and fried potatoes for 35 cents. Then I could go to the Gem Theater for 10 cents. I'd still have 30 cents left to play with."
O'Neil recalled staying at Kansas City's Street Hotel where famous jazz musicians mingled with players.
"I could come down to breakfast in the Rose Room and somebody would say, 'Hey, Buck, come over here and have breakfast with me,'" he recalled. "It could have been Louis Armstrong, it could have been Sarah Vaughan, it could have been Duke Ellington."
Also on the tour were two other honorees -- Rangers manager Buck Showalter and Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen.
Showalter, who received the C.I Taylor Award as AL Manager of the Year, remembered the impact of the Negro Leagues' Cool Papa Bell, a Hall of Fame outfielder.
"I managed up in Oneonta, N.Y., and I took my dad to the Cooperstown Hall of Fame induction. And he didn't want to meet Mickey Mantle or Yogi Berra -- they had everybody there -- he wanted to get his picture taken with Cool Papa Bell," Showalter said.
"So it was emotional for me to walk around here and kind of dwell on a lot of things. It's an honor for me to be here."
Isringhausen, who shared the Hilton Smith Award as NL Reliever of the Year, absorbed some of the numbers posted by Negro Leaguers.
"You start rattling off these guys' stats and stuff, and I'm just glad we didn't have to face these guys," he said.
Later Saturday, they were to be joined by Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield, winner of the Oscar Charleston Award as the AL's Most Valuable Player, and A's shortstop Bobby Crosby, the AL's Rookie of the Year.
Each year the number of award winners attending the ceremonies is increasing.
"It's a great thing to see people appear," Ryan said. "This is a wonderful cause."
Jocketty obviously was impressed in his first exposure to the museum.
"It's absolutely moving going through here," he said. "It's just amazing how good these players were and I'll do my best to carry this word out. It's very important, not only to fans of my era but to my son's era."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.