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Indians honor players who paved the way for Blacks

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The Indianapolis Indians will honor those before them who set the standard for African-American baseball players.

The Indians, alongside the Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC), will host the second Civil Rights baseball game on Aug. 3, where they will take on the Louisville Bats at Victory Field.

“The Indians Civil Rights Game is important both to honor the history of civil rights in this country, particularly in the game of baseball, but also serves as a reminder that civil rights are not just something in the past – they are continuous,” said Amanda Bray, senior marketing and communications manager for the Indianapolis Indians.

Jamal Smith, ICRC executive director, says the Civil Rights Game is a creative way to inform people about their civil rights in a relaxed setting and reach a big crowd.

“It’s really difficult to get folks to take time out of their day to come sit in some government building and listen to what they consider to be some boring speech,” said Smith. “This game gives us an opportunity to reach out to our target demographic, which is everyone in the state of Indiana.”

Before the game, Smith will address the crowd by giving spectators a brief message about what the Indiana Civil Rights Commission is and also pay homage to Indianapolis Negro League players for their commitments on and off the baseball field. Following his remarks, Smith will throw the first pitch promptly at 7:05 p.m.

The Indians will honor players that were part of the Indianapolis Clowns, a professional team in the Negro American League. During the game, the team will wear Clowns throwback jerseys, which resemble the jerseys Clowns players wore in the past.

The throwback jerseys will be auctioned off after the game and all proceeds will go to the Negro League Museum in Kansas City, Mo.

Brad Meadows, ICRC communications manager, says tickets for last year’s Civil Rights Game sold out and he encourages early ticket purchases this year. Tickets will be regularly priced.

“(The game) has really gained a lot of traction. A lot of people are excited about it so we definitely plan to do it every year,” said Meadows.

Meadows also explained why ICRC wanted to be a part of this game.

“Knowing the history of the Indianapolis Clowns and Negro League baseball and the importance of it from a civil rights perspective as baseball became integrated, has a very good connection with what we’re doing at the Indiana Civil Rights Commission,” said Meadows.

Smith says because it is a baseball game, he wants fans to have a good time, but also to know that the Indiana Civil Rights Commission is there for them if they face discrimination.

For more information about the Civil Rights Game, visit Indyindians.com.

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