Sports Briefs

Posted: Thursday, December 04, 2003

Arctic Winter Games announces skating tryouts

Arctic Winter Games Team Alaska has announced figure skating tryouts from Dec. 5 through 7 at the UAA Sport Center in Anchorage. Athletes who are selected at this tryout will be part of Alaska's 377-person delegation to the 2004 Arctic Winter Games, scheduled for Feb. 28 through March 6, 2004, in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, part of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

All details regarding the competition are available in PDF format at the Anchorage Figure Skating Club's Web site: A total of eight competitors will qualify for the 2004 Arctic Winter Games. Females born between 1986 and 1994 are eligible for selection. Competition will be held in Ladies 1, Ladies 2, Ladies 3 and Ladies 4 classes. For more information, contact figure skating sport coordinator Joan Hufford at 694-9789.

Negro League Hall of Fame planned

WASHINGTON Al Burrows wore the same New York Black Yankees jersey he wore 49 years ago no high-priced throwback needed for this Negro Leagues veteran. On the table was a weathered glove worn for eight years by Satchel Paige, who eventually traded it to a friend for a pair of knee-high fishing boots.

Recently discovered artifacts nearly a century old were scattered throughout preserved unknowingly for decades in someone's suitcase: box scores, ledgers, photos and letters. They are the remnants of the less organized days of the so-called Colored Leagues, a period that even the old-timers couldn't remember. Many of those memories will find a permanent home in the new Negro League Legends Hall of Fame, a shrine and museum to be built in Washington. Groundbreaking is scheduled for next year, with opening day set for 2006.

''We need this,'' said Sam Allen, who played for the Kansas City Monarchs, Raleigh Taggers and Memphis Red Sox in the late 1950s. ''I've got grandchildren, and I can sit them down and tell them, but then they want to see the proof. With this museum coming up, they'll be able to come here and see my name and my picture. It's a long time coming.''

There already is a Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., and the history of black baseball is well documented in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. The new Hall of Fame will supplement those, focusing more on individual players.

''It gives the average player a chance to be recognized,'' Allen said. ''When you talk about Negro Leagues, black baseball, the first thing is Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson. But you had a lot of other good ball players. The Negro Leagues were loaded.''

It was a discovery of some pre-Negro Leagues history that fascinated those gathered at Howard University on Wednesday. Detailed records that once belonged to Rutherford Hayes Jones, who owned a team called the Washington Giants in the early 20th century, had been found in a suitcase and turned over to Dwayne Sims, founder of the new Hall.

''He kept the box scores, how much he paid the umpires, the players, the receipts, everything,'' Sims said

Among the 300-plus items is a 1911 ledger noting $2 paid to an umpire to work a game, numerous photos of athletes that Sims hopes to identify through research, and well-preserved correspondence from an era when white and black teams routinely played each other.

''Is your team white or colored?'' is asked at the end of a letter organizing a series of games in 1906. ''Kindly let me hear from you by return mail.''

The Negro National League in 1920 was the first fully organized black league, followed by the Eastern Colored League in 1923. Even after Jackie Robinson broke the major league race barrier in 1947, some teams lasted into the 1950s and the 1960s. Sims estimates more than 300 Negro Leagues alumni are still living.

Their stories were ignored for years, but are now more popular than ever. A renaissance that started nearly a decade ago has them earning the acceptance and the perks they never received when they were playing.

''I can go out and make $1,000 in one day.'' said Burrows, 71, recalling the fine food and hotel accommodations for a recent autograph session in Richmond, Va.

Not all are doing that well. Sims noted Negro League players are ''not getting one dime'' from the sales of throwback Negro League hats and jerseys, which can cost hundreds of dollars.

''These fellows today that make all these big salaries, they could donate something,'' said 88-year-old Sonny Randle, wearing a Homestead Grays throwback. ''A life span isn't but so long. They could contribute to the older fellows that didn't get a chance. They're leaving families behind, and they're dying out.''

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