CC Sabathia, ex-MLBers to play in revived Negro League East-West All-Star Game

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The National Baseball Hall of Fame is set to revive the Negro League’s East-West All-Star game with a legends exhibition in Cooperstown, New York next May.

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Announced during the winter meetings Tuesday, the game will take place during Memorial Day weekend at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown and will feature big-name ex-MLB talent. Hall of Famers Ken Griffey Jr. and Ozzie Smith are set to manage both teams, while former All-Star Pitcher CC Sabathia and outfielder Chris Young have been named team captains.

“The East-West All-Star Game was the annual showcase for the Negro Leagues, and we are privileged to be able to honor the legacy of those stars over Memorial Day Weekend in Cooperstown as part of the Hall of Fame’s celebration of Black baseball,” Sabathia said in a statement via ESPN. “As players, we are indebted to the pioneers who came before us, and recognizing the All-Stars of the Negro Leagues pays tribute not only to their playing ability but also to their courage and devotion to the game.”

Other confirmed players include Prince Fielder, Curtis Granderson, Ryan Howard, Edwin Jackson, Adam Jones, Dontrelle Willis, David Price, Dexter Fowler, and Tony Gwynn Jr. The game will also feature brothers Scott Hairston and Jerry Hairston Jr., whose grandfather, Sam, played in the Negro Leagues and appeared in an East-West All-Star game.

The game will reportedly be the featured event in the annual Hall of Fame Classic weekend. It will also coincide with the museum’s unveiling of a new exhibit commemorating the history of Black Baseball. The exhibit, named “The Souls of the Game: Voice of Black Baseball,” is part of the Hall’s Black Baseball Initiative.

The East-West All-Star Game was the annual all-star exhibition for Negro League baseball players, running from 1933 until the last Negro League was disbanded in 1962. Several future Hall of Famers played in the games, including Bill Foster, Leon Day, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, and Jackie Robinson.

The Yawkey Foundation

According to the Baseball Hall of Fame’s website, the Black Baseball Initiative is “made possible by the Yawkey Foundation” along with other donors. The “Souls of the Game’’ exhibit will also be located in the Yawkey Gallery. Both the foundation and the exhibit are named after Tom Yawkey, the longtime manager of the Red Sox and the main factor as to why Boston was the last major league baseball team to add a Black player. Jackie Robinson, who tried out for the Red Sox in 1964 and never heard back, said Yawkey was “probably one of the most bigoted guys in baseball.” In 2018, the Red Sox filed a petition to the city of Boston to revert Fenway Park’s street name from Yawkey Way back to its original Jersey Street.

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