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Indianapolis Indians prepare for Negro Leagues Night

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In a tradition that has been going on for over a decade, the Indianapolis Indians will pay tribute to the history of the Negro Leagues through a collaboration with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission on June 22 at Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis.

Director of communications for the Indianapolis Indians Cheyne Reiter spoke about how the importance of Negro Leagues Night.

“We have been doing it for the greater part of the past decade,” Reiter said. “As the sole baseball team of the city that has been around for the last 122 years or so, it is our job to honor those teams and players that paved the path to get baseball where it is today. We are honored.”

Indy native Oscar Charleston, who was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976, managed the Indianapolis Clowns during the early 1950s. The Indians will wear Clowns jerseys in recognition of key figures like Charleston and the Negro Leagues team. Indianapolis Clowns jerseys will be auctioned off until the end of the seventh inning to benefit Indianapolis Indians charities.

Reiter said that last year’s auction during Negro Leagues week brought in around $10,000, which was mostly donated to Indy RBI, an organization that helps get disadvantaged youth into baseball without the concern of fees.

Vanessa Rose, the granddaughter of Hall of Famer Norman “Turkey” Stearnes — who played 19 seasons in the Negro Leagues with the Detroit Stars, Chicago American Giants, Philadelphia Stars and Kansas City Monarchs — will also be in attendance. Clips from her podcast “Reclaimed: The Forgotten League,” produced by ABC News, will be played at Victory Field throughout the game.

More news: Negro Leagues pioneer honored in D.C.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – JUNE 11: On Saturday night the Indianapolis honored the Negro League during a MiLB game between the Columbus Clippers and the Indianapolis Indiana on June 11, 2022 at Victory Field in Indianapolis, IN.(Photo/Jeff Brown)

Reiter spoke about how popular Negro Leagues Night, which ran for an entire week, was last year.

“Our second-most attended home game last year was during Negro Leagues Week,” Reiter said. “We alternate from Negro Leagues Night and Negro Leagues Week every year or so.”

In a shocking turn of events, on May 29, MLB announced that they would integrate stats from the Negro Leagues, with players like Turkey Stearnes, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston taking the top spots in many statistical categories.

“MLB taking that step and recognizing Negro Leagues players is a milestone,” Reiter said. “It is a significant day for baseball. It is a significant week.”

Phil Dixon, a Baseball researcher, author and Negro Leagues analyst who served on the Negro Leagues Statistical Review Committee, thinks the integration of the stats is a great move in the right direction.

“Working with this expert group of baseball historians has been an honor,” Dixon said. “This is a great effort. There is so much work to be done and so many stories to be told through the numbers … The future of Black men in baseball has never looked brighter.”

Those who are interested in being a part of the auction can text VICTORY to 79230 to bid on memorabilia that will benefit a great cause. For ticket information on Negro Leagues Night, visit MiLB.com/Indianapolis.

Contact multi-media and senior sports reporter Noral Parham III at 317-762-7846. Follow him on X @3Noral.

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