|Survial of the EldestWith the Passing of Frank Evans on August 3rd 2012' Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, Charles "Goulash" Johnson, Lester Lockett, Buck O'Neil, Sammy Drake, Andy Porter, Art Wilson, etc.... here are those greats who rank among the "youngest," from the former Negro League Legends.
|HISTORICAL PICSOn these pages are images from both, "Back in the Day" and today, as things stand now.
Many of the people featured were very instrumental in the development of the Negro Baseball Leagues.
Of the Color photos taken throughout the Chicagoland area, these show what remains today.
|APPEARANCESClick Here to see Where your Favorite former Negro League Baseball Legends and your Former Barnstorming Baseball Legends will next Appear
|CONTACT USNegro League Legends.org
Post Office Box A3738
Chicago, Illinois 60690-3738
Negro League Legends .org
PGC MarketLink a company who over the years - has assisted with such worthwhile organizations as - the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, the Canadian Club of Chicago, the Hoosier Bat Foundation, the Center for Negro League Baseball Research and the latest venture - this website titled: www.NegroLeagueLegends.org and or www.BarnstormersBaseball.org. The sole purpose of this web site is to give back to the fellas and help support those who helped lead the way. These projects listed here are just to name a few of which we are involved with. We have also assisted on numerous other fund-raisers and have set up numerous personal appearances for those former negro league legends at trade shows and ballparks nationwide. Should your organization wish to have some of these great men at your event, please call or e-mail us at least two weeks prior to the date of your event. email@example.com or (312) 859-7788.
Some photos on this web site are courtesy of the Chicago Defender Newspaper. We really appreciate their courtesy and interest in promoting history. For more on the Chicago Defender - and today's latest headlines - go to: www.ChicagoDefender.com
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Negro League Legends
P.O. Box A3738
Chicago, IL 60690-3738
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In this space we would like to extend our sincerest symphathies to our great dear friend - and former caretaker of Mr. Ted Radcliff ... the late Ms. Clare Hellstern. May she rest in peace. She will be missed.
Played for Negro Leagues' American Giants
June 15, 2006
BY BEN GOLDBERGER
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES Staff Reporter
Johnson, one of the oldest surviving Negro League baseball players and
an activist who successfully challenged the Illinois Central RR's
exclusionary hiring practices, died Saturday in his sleep at Manor Care
Nursing Home in Oak Lawn. He was 96.
Born in Pine Bluff,
Ark., in 1909, Mr. Johnson moved to Chicago in 1925 to care for his
ailing mother. Her death left Mr. Johnson alone on the city's South
Side, without family or a high school diploma.
But Mr. Johnson had talent on the baseball diamond.
A friendship with
legendary Negro League player and impresario Ted "Double Duty"
Radcliffe helped Mr. Johnson begin his professional career when he
joined the Texas Giants in 1930 for the team's barnstorming tour
through Canada. Before, and about a decade after, Major League Baseball
was integrated in 1947, African-American teams criss-crossed America
and Canada taking on all challengers. Mr. Johnson spent much of the
1930s traveling the country as part of these touring outfits.
It was this itinerant
lifestyle, friends say, that helped Mr. Johnson acquire his esoteric
knowledge and precise sense of direction.
"He was knowledgeable
even though he didn't go to high school," said friend and fellow Negro
League veteran Johnny Washington. "He knew everything. He knew every
street in Chicago. And Michigan and Iowa. Any street in the Midwest,
Charlie could tell you exactly where to go."
"MapQuest has nothing on this guy," said friend Gary Crawford.
From 1932 to 1933, Mr.
Johnson was a pitcher and outfielder for the famed Chicago American
Giants, according to Bob Mitchell, the national coordinator for the
Communication Network for Negro League Players, a clearinghouse for
Negro League player information. The Giants were a source of pride to
black Chicagoans, often winning the Negro National League championship
and occasionally outdrawing the all-white Cubs and White Sox, according
Worked to be part of MLB pension
But even while playing
for such a vaunted team, Mr. Johnson had to take a variety of
blue-collar jobs to make ends meet. During the Depression, Mr. Johnson
supported his baseball income working in the stockyards,
electroplating, shining shoes and as a restaurant cook, which is where
he earned the nickname that stuck with him for the rest of his life.
Mr. Johnson quit
baseball shortly after his marriage in 1942 and joined the Illinois
Central RR as a Pullman porter. When the porters were being phased out
due to declining ridership, Mr. Johnson applied to become a special
agent investigator. There were no African-American special agents.
"He was a Pullman
porter and he said 'I want to be a special agent,' " said Steve Kirby,
a friend whose father owned a security company Mr. Johnson worked for.
"And they looked at him like he was asking to have another head put on."
With the support of
his union, Mr. Johnson filed a discrimination lawsuit against Illinois
Central. It was resolved in his favor in 1970, and Mr. Johnson became
the railroad's first African-American special agent, according to Kirby.
"I liked Charlie
because he overcame a tremendous amount of adversity in his life," said
Kirby. "He fought discrimination his whole life. . . . Charlie always
had a very good moral center, [a sense] of what was right and wrong."
In his retirement, Mr.
Johnson worked to include former Negro League players in a pension fund
created by Major League Baseball. Mr. Johnson was never accepted into
A service is scheduled
for 11 a.m. Friday at Oak Woods Cemetery, 1035 E. 67th. A memorial is
planned for Aug. 7, which would have been Mr. Johnson's 97th birthday,
at the Negro League Cafe, 301 E. 43rd.
By Mitch Dudek
Chicago Tribune staff reporter
June 16, 2006
Charles Johnson took pride in
knowing that as a player in the Negro Leagues, he helped open the door
for other black players to play professional baseball.
Mr. Johnson, who lived on the South Side most of his life, played for
the Chicago American Giants as a pitcher and outfielder in the 1930s
and early 1940s. One of the oldest surviving Negro Leagues baseball
players, Mr. Johnson died Saturday, June 10, at the age of 96 due to
complications of prostate cancer. Born in Pine Bluff, Ark., in
1909, Mr. Johnson grew up on baseball and played in Arkansas, Kansas
City and St. Louis before moving with his mother to Chicago when he was
15. His mother died the same year, and Mr. Johnson, who was an only child, was on his own.
But Mr. Johnson, who lived down the block from Comiskey Park, found a
friend in Negro Leagues legend Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, who helped
him get into the leagues.
"Duty lived on the same block as
Charlie and really took a liking to him," said friend and former Negro
Leagues player Johnny Washington, of Chicago.
played during the 1930s for the Chicago American Giants,. But most of
the time, Mr. Johnson played on independent barnstorming teams that
toured the country, friend Steve Kirby said.
in the Southern states, Mr. Johnson sometimes found himself the object
of racial slurs. Though he was a big man and knew how to use his fists,
he would rather use words, Washington said.
When someone would
say something derogatory, Mr. Johnson would "smile and keep his mouth
shut. He would give the other guy a chance to cool down, and then
Charlie would go talk to him like a regular person," Washington said.
"That was Charlie."
In 1942, Mr. Johnson married his
girlfriend, Julia, and the two moved into a home in Chicago's Fuller
Park neighborhood, later moving to Chatham.
Mr. Johnson was
still playing in the early 1940s when his wife, who worked as a hat
maker, persuaded him to quit baseball. In the following years, Mr.
Johnson had several different jobs, before taking a position with
Illinois Central Railroad in the 1950s as a porter, Kirby said.
In the mid-1960s, Mr. Johnson became the first African-American special
agent for Illinois Central Railroad after winning a discrimination
lawsuit, Kirby said. His duties there included investigating cargo
theft and crimes to passengers.
He retired from the railroad in the early '70s and worked for a private security firm for about six years after that.
Time never dulled Mr. Johnson's intellect, and he was as sharp in his 90s as he was in his youth, friends said.
"He had a memory out of sight. Charlie was like an encyclopedia," Washington said.
Mr. Johnson could navigate the Midwest using side streets because he
spent so many days on the road traveling to games before the many
highways were built, Washington said.
Not always being able to
use the same water fountains or bathrooms as white players did not make
Mr. Johnson bitter, Washington said.
And despite being part of
a generation of African-American men who paved the way for professional
baseball's integration, Mr. Johnson remained humble to the end about
About five years ago, Kirby traveled with Mr.
Johnson to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., and
pointed out a guy who looked like Mr. Johnson in a team picture hanging
on the wall.
"Charles just smiled and said, `Yeah, that's me.' He never made a big deal about it," Kirby said.
In the last two decades Mr. Johnson spent much of his time at home
reading books and newspapers and watching televised baseball games and
programs on PBS in equal amounts, friend Gary Crawford said.
"He was much loved. If you met him, you never forgot him," Crawford said.
Mr. Johnson's wife died in 1999. A memorial service for Mr. Johnson
will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at Oak Woods Cemetery, 1035 E. 67th St.
Another memorial service is planned for Aug. 7 at the Negro League Cafe, 301 E. 43rd St.
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune
Negro League Legends
Click Here to hear interview with Johnny "Lefty" Washington and Web Program Administrator Gary Crawford
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