This site is designed to give followers of Historically Black College and University baseball an opportunity to learn more about the rich history of African-Americans in college baseball. While there are a number of very good sites dedicated to HBCU baseball, most deal primarily with current news, teams and ballplayers. From time to time, we too will post current items of interest. However, most of this site will be comprised of research on black college baseball’s past and integrators of non-HBCU baseball teams.
Just to let you fans of Black College Nines know, I have been slow to post any stories… but with good reason.
Last October, I was asked by the director of the College Baseball Foundation to serve on a four person ad-hoc committee assigned to the task of formulating a new classification for the foundation’s existing College Baseball Hall of Fame.
Ultimately the new group became know as the Black College Legends and Pioneers Committee. After developing the criteria for honoring a group of athletes and coaches, who may not be as well known to mainstream college baseball fans, the next task was to select ten individuals to represent the first class of nominees.
For those followers of HBCU baseball, the group of ten presents a very impressive list of five former ballplayers and five former coaches. From this list, the committee will select the very first class of Black College Legends and Pioneers for induction into the foundation’s Hall of Fame in July of 2011.
This was a great personal honor to be included in this process and an exciting time for HBCU baseball!
For more information on the College Baseball Foundation, click here. For more details of this new committee, click here.
July 25, 2010 will always be an important day on the baseball calendar of Florida A&M baseball. On this date, former Rattler Andre Dawson became the first FAMU alum to be inducted into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Dawson’s pro career is well documented and most baseball fans are familiar with his professional career, starting with Dawson’s selection by the Montreal Expos in the 11th round (250 player picked overall) of the 1975 MLB draft.
Obviously, Andrew Dawson did not go unnoticed while at Florida A&M between the years of 1973-1975… at least not by the Expos’ scout who recognized the potential in “the Hawk”.
Not drafted out of high school and with no scholarship offers, Andrew Dawson ignored advice from scouts and opted for Florida A&M instead of Florida State. His cousins had attended FAMU, it was a good school and the Rattlers had a great athletic tradition. Additionally, the school’s baseball team had a wonderful coach in Costa “Pop” Kittle.
When Andre Dawson arrived at Florida A&M in the fall of 1972, he was a scrawny kid with a knee less than 100% mobile from a high school football injury. By the time Dawson left school in 1975 for pro ball, he was a solid and physically healthy pro prospect deserving of the chance he’d get to prove himself a star.
Though I have not found many stats for Andre Dawson while he was in college, I have located a few. Generally speaking, the teams he played on were good enough to beat the powerhouse Hurricanes of the University of Miami 3 of 4 times between 1973-1974… Miami teams that went a combined 93-28 over that two year span and produced 1974 college player of the year, Orlando Gonzales.
Among the 1974 national statistical leaders, found in the 1975 edition of the Official Collegiate Baseball Guide, Andre Dawson is listed twice amongst the “small” school leaders. Dawson finished third nationally in doubles with an average of .41 per game (11 doubles) and tenth in slugging with a .695 average.
Congratulations to an HBCU all-time great on his induction into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame!
By the way… if anyone has more stats on Andre Dawson while at Florida A&M, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me via Facebook or email me from our website link.
While looking through the Official NCAA Baseball Guide of 1973 for some unrelated material, I stumbled across a stat that I had not included in any of my previous updates on the good old days when HBCU’s dominated NAIA baseball.
Inadvertently left off my list of yearly leaders was Southern University, with its lofty .334 team batting average leading the small school division in 1972.
And it is not a wonder the Jaguars were a hitting machine with the likes of Dale Brock and Danny Goodwin, both of whom would be named to the prestigious Team USA in 1973.
Dale Brock (l) Danny Goodwin (r)
Brock, the cousin of pro baseball Hall of Famer Lou Brock, posted a .348 average in 1972 and led the team with eight home runs. Goodwin, who went on to become a two-time All American and the only ballplayer ever to twice be tabbed as the number one pick in the MLB draft, hit .364. Both Brock, an outfielder and Goodwin, a catcher, were freshman in 1972.
However, the team leader on offense was an upper-class outfielder named Roger Cador. If the name sounds familiar, it should. Cador went on to become the highly successful head coach of these same Southern University Jaguars. Entering into his 21st season in 2010, Coach Cador had compiled a 645-334-1 record.
Roger Cador in 1972
But in 1972, leading the team with a .393 batting average (two years before aluminum bats came on the scene), Roger Cador had dreams of pro baseball, not coaching. As a 10th round selection of the Atlanta Braves in 1973, Cador spent four seasons in the minor leagues before turning to coaching. Dale Brock was drafted three times, the last being a third round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 1975. Brock played two years of minor league ball. Danny Goodwin was the first player picked in the 1975 MLB draft (by the California Angles) and played seven seasons in the Majors, mostly as a designated hitter and part-time catcher.
The memory of Negro League baseball is alive and well in Baton Rouge, Louisiana one weekend every spring when rival Grambling State University comes to town to face host, Southern University.
This year’s series will be played on Saturday, April 10th and Sunday, April 11th at Lee-Hines Field. Both teams will be wearing Negro Leagues throwback jerseys.
“The throwback jerseys are always a special weekend,” Southern University head coach Roger Cador said. “Negro Leaguers played a special role in baseball history because they were able to tear down barriers with their baseball ability.”
The concept of a throwback game at Southern came to Cador during the 1999-2000 season and the first games were played in 2002. “We wanted to do what we could do to inform and enhance the awareness of Negro League ball,” said Cador.
In every year but one, versus Texas Southern, Southern University has hosted Grambling for its annual throwback weekend which has grown to include vendors, exhibits and visits from the likes of the legendary Negro Leaguer, Buck O’Neil.
Fred Lewis, who wore similar throwback uniforms at both Southern University and as a San Francisco Giant versus the Kansas City Royals admitted he did not know many details about the Negro Leagues, but said, “I appreciate what they did for us. I didn’t know much about what they went through back then. I’ve read some stuff and seen video clips of what happened. It meant a lot to put on the uniforms of the teams they played for. “ And the throwback uniform he wore at Southern University… the Kansas City Monarchs.
Not only is the throwback game appreciated by current and former Southern University ballplayers, but also by Grambling players who wear grey flannels representing Negro League teams. Said Southern University’s Roger Cador, “our opponents also enjoy being part of something special.”
Grambling’s Jeremy Shelby, son of former Major Leaguer John Shelby, said “playing in the game gave me a better appreciation for the Negro Leagues and it was an honor to be part of the affair including the throwback uniforms.”
Former Southern University ballplayer and current Milwaukee Brewer, Rickie Weeks, is one ballplayer who previously had an understanding and appreciation of Negro League baseball before playing in his first throwback game. “I was told at an early age about the struggles and times these players went through.”
In his two Southern University throwback games, Weeks (pictured to the left) wore uniforms of the Memphis Red Sox and the Homestead Grays. However Weeks confesses that his favorite uniform probably is that of the Newark Eagles. And why might that be? For the same reason he probably had a better understanding of the Negro Leagues than most… his grandfather Victor (pictured to the right) had a short stint with the Newark Eagles, a team that featured future Hall of Famers Larry Doby and Monte Irvin.
If you can make it out to the ballpark for any of the throwback games, you won’t be disappointed. But if you can’t be there, then a trip to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri would definitely make up for it. Below is a short video on such a trip made by Rickie Weeks a few years ago.