The 2019 Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony is supposed take place on Sunday July 26 2020 in Cooperstown, New York depending on Pandemic coronavirus. If all goes well once again, Buck O’Neil, Curt Flood, and Maury Wills will be nowhere to be found during the induction ceremonies. Their being overlooked won’t be because of steroids.
Major League Baseball should be ashame of itself for omitting Buck O’Neil from the hall of fame in 2006 when it was obvious he belonged. Buck was an outstanding player in the Negroe League with the Kansas City Monarchs. After his playing days he becames a scout for MLB and later became the first black coach. I met and interviewed Buck in Northern Virginia in the 80s while he was playing the role he loved, acting as an Ambassador for a barnstorming black team. He was an officer and gentleman. He made you feel like you had been his long lost friend. I am stll looking for that interview in 2020????
I met Curt when the Washington Senators defied the baseball Gods/owners and signed him. I encountered him having lunch in Frank’s Restaurant on Florida Avenue NW on a rainy day in 1971. I introduced myself and he treated me to lunch. The next week he was gone. We would not meet again until San Francisco somewhere in the 80s. Former DC weekend sports anchor Martin Wyatt was working as a sports anchor at KGO TV in the Golden City. He was hosting a tribute to Legends of the Game. He invited me and Hattie to the tribute. Curt Flood, Jim Brown, Al Attles were among the legends being honored.
THE GREAT CURT FLOOD AND THE EQUALLY GREAT TED WILLIAMS
CURT, HATTIE T AND AL ATTLES HANGING OUT TOGETHER IN SAN FRANCISCO
Curt is the author of the most heroic individual acts of resistance in modern Major League Baseball history, will be excluded. This year’s inductees — Harold Baines, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera and Lee Smith — are incredibly worthy. But none of them has Flood’s revolutionary résumé, although each benefited from Flood’s act of defiance. After the 2000 season, for example, Mussina used free agency to leave the Baltimore Orioles and sign a six-year, $88.5 million contract with the New York Yankees. None of July’s inductees sacrificed as much so that future generations of major leaguers could reap the rewards. Curt has been a thorn on a rose that still sticks in the side of Major League Baseball. While most players were too cowardly to support Flood, Jackie Robinson showed up in court and openly embraced him. Thanks to Robinson, baseball has become a global game. Flood, to this day, is seen by some as antithetical to the big business interests of baseball — of all sports. He was a star player who pushed back against the restrictive status quo. His absence from the MLB Hall of Fame is further proof an “Even Playing and Forty-Acres & Mule” proves we are the only ones who are playing fair.
Maury ‘Sonny’ Wills is a native Washingtonian and one DC’s great all-around athletes while attending Cardozo High School. He also excelled as a running back and kick-off returner and guard on the basketball team. He was signed after a baseball tryout at Griffin Stadium in the early 50s and his road to Major Leaugue was not the Yellow Brick Road. I was up close and personal and watched his struggles and never give up attitude. During the off season he would come back to our old neighborhood a housing project called Parkside. He would stay in shape by playing football with the Stonewalls a legendary DC amateur football team. His brother Donald aka Duck and I were high school teammates at Spingarn High School. Our football coach Dave Brown would bring the Stonewalls into scrimmage us–it was a controled scrimmage, but it was really Boys vs Men. Sonny would line-up at QB, RB and DB just to remind us he still had it and he did. I ran what I thought was my best pass pattern-Down and Out against him. He picked the ball off and ran it back all the way. He never let Duck and me forget it. He later told me I would have to become a better actor if I was going to be any good as a pass catcher. I had no clue what he was trying to tell me until I got to college.
DC’S MAURY WILLS REVOLUCTIONIZE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL WITH THE STOLEN BASE
MAURY WILLS FOUL OUT AS MANAGER OF THE SEATTLE MARINERS
He was finally called up to Major League Baseball by the LA Dodgers IN 1959. Sonny got off to a slow start in the 1959 World Series, in six games he went 5-20 and stole one base. 1960 was his first full season, he hit .295 and led the league in stolen bases with 50 making him the first National League player to steal 50 bases since Max Carey’s 51 in 1923. The best was yet to come, in 1962 he stole 104 bases to set a new MLB stolen base record, breaking the old modersn era mark of 96 set by Ty Cobb in 1915. He revolutionize MLB with the stolen base it was a bigger threat than the homerun. He stole more bases than all the other teams that year, the highest total being his hometown Washington Senators who had 99.
His success as a base stealer that year led to another remarkable stat, he was caught stealing just 13 times all season. He hit .299 for the season , led the NL with 10 triples and 179 singles, and was named the NL MVP over Willie Mays. Willie had a year that was nothing to sneeze at, he hit .304 with 49 hr and 141 rbi. Sonny and the stolen base had become such a threat in that 1962 season, San Francisco Giants manager Alvin Dark ordered ground crews to water down the the base paths hoping the muddy field would slow him down. He played a full162 game schedule, plus all of the best of three regular season play-off series with the Giants, giving him a total of 165 games played, a MLB record that still stands today for most games played in a single season.
Maury Wills’ 104 steals remained a Major League record for switch-hitters until 1985 when Vince Coleman eclipsed the mark with 110. Vince is the major league player who once told a group of reporters, he was not aware of Jackie Robinson knocking down any doors for him! Maury Wills was a true super star and a sure fire first ballot hall of famer, but his singing in the shower with vocalist Doris Day has cost him induction into the hall of fame.
It is nothing new for the Hall of Fame to hold these last rites of passage and omitt black athletes who speak out about the racism and politics that govern these institutions. There are Black Hall of Fames that follow their lead.
The NBA shunned the great basketball Coach Johnny McLendon before they finally inducted him in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as a “CONTRIBUTOR” which he and many others including Dean Smith felt was a slap in the face. For example; Adolph Rupp of Kentucky was voted in as a “COACH”. Dean Smith who followed Johnny Mack was voted in as a “COACH” what made their contributions any significant than his? The “4 Corners Offense” was the brainchild of Coach McLendon, not Dean Smith.
Earl Lloyd was the first black to play in the NBA. He helped the Syracuse Nationals win a NBA championship and was the first black assistant coach and could have been the first black head coach, but the Detroit Pistons were not ready to lead the way. Red Auerbach stepped to the front of the line and named Bill Russell. The NBA ignored Earl’s contributions until I convinced Red Auerbach to join me in a campaign to get him elected in 2003. He went in the backdoor as a “CONTRIBUTOR”? Al Attles played in the NBA for 11 years and won an NBA Championship when he swept the Baltimore Bullets in 4 games in 1975. He was recently inducted as a “CONTRIBUTOR”??? Black coaches and players are made to feel like second class citizens when they are finally recognized! The Hall made super-star and pioneer Spencer Haywood who literally knocked down the doors alone forcing the merger of the NBA and ABA completely changing the salary structure. He had to wait close to 35 years for his induction because of his drug use. NBA Commissioner David Stern made him do “Community Service” that satisfied him before he could be inducted. Spencer was Community Service long before dozens of NBA players. The reason he was kept waiting was because of his drug use–hypocrites! The NBA Hall of Fame is overrun with drug abusers. The hall would be almost empty if that was the cretia for induction.
NFL greats, Roy Jefferson NFL Hall of Fame worthy, NFL Hall of Fame inductee Willie Wood (1989) and pioneer Johnny Sample is in the same waiting line as Buck, Curt and Maury.
Johnny Sample was an All-American RB at Maryland State Eastern Shore. He was the first player ever selected from a HBCU to play in the college All-Star Game against the NFL Champions. In his rookie season, he won an NFL championship ring with the Colts in their victory over the New York Giants in the 1958 NFL Championship Game. A game now known as “The Greatest Game Ever Played”. In between, Sample won another championship in the 1959 NFL Championship Game, scoring a touchdown on a 42-yard interception return in the Colts 31-16 victory over the Giants.
He was the co-captain of the AFL New York Jets with QB Joe Namath when they pulled off the biggest upset in pro football history. The Jets were 18 point underdogs when they beat the Baltimore Colts 17-6 in Super Bowl III in 1969. Johnny is the only player in pro football history to win World Championships in two different leagues. After his playing career ended in 1970 he released a very outspoken autobiography, Confessions of a Dirty Ballplayer. In 1977, he was inducted into the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Hawk Hall of Fame.
Noteworthy:The problem that Buck, Curt, and Johnny all face, there is no one in sports media with the balls to stand up and call these plantation type organizations out for the racist cowards that they are. They hide behind anonymity. Have we forgotten that is how the KKK hide behind their mask for decades riding in the dark of night burning homes and lynching Black Americans? If there are any Blacks associated with this group of cowards, they need to be tarred and feathered. How can a brother whose only vehicle was AM Radio, the weakness signal on the radio dial, campaign successfully for two pro athletes to be inducted into their hall of fames (Willie Wood & Earl Lloyd)? I will never forget when Willie Wood died I called several media personalities to see if they were going to write anything on the death of my friend. I was able to get only two of the five I called on the phone–the Atlantic’s Dave Aldridge (Dave wrote a story and attended the funeral) and USA Today’s Jarrett Bell. I have been knowing Jarrett since he first took the job as a writer for the paper. First, I asked if he was aware that Willie had died and his response was “Yes I am aware”. Remember this is a brother that I watched go from a writer to the title ‘NFL Editor for USA Today’. My next question, “Are you writing anything on his passing”? He said, ‘Man I am getting ready to go on vacation, I don’t have the time’! I could not believe my ears to what I was hearing what this brother was saying to me. People of color get very little credit for living in America and too many times there is no mention that they passed this way. If you know where Willie came from and how he got to where he arrived, you know this was not music to my ears. Jarrett Bell is not a rare bird in sports media he has become the NEW normal. Check me out FACE BOOK LIVE on Friday at 9 pm to continue this discussion.