June 18, 1999

From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov] [DOCID:cr29se99-135]


Mr. THOMPSON. Mr. President, on June 18, 1999, Tennessee-based Lebanon Clowns celebrated their inaugural reunion at their Baseball Team Roundup in Lebanon. The Negro League baseball team gathered for the first time in over thirty years to reminisce about their youthful baseball exploits. The Clowns were a favorite among Lebanon's African- American community as they played teams from Birmingham, Alabama, Pontiac, Michigan and Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Negro Leagues were an integral part of American baseball history. A product of segregated America, it gave opportunity where opportunity did not exist. The teams were professional, pre-integration black baseball leagues in which the level of play was considered to be the equal of play in major league baseball. The first stable black league was the Negro National League organized in 1920 by Andrew ``Rube'' Foster. This league, as well as the recognized Negro National League-- created by Gus Greenlee in the early 1930s--and the Negro American League, are universally regarded as having offered the highest level of play among African-American players of the day. During the 1940s the Negro National and Negro American leagues reached their highest point of popularity and financial success. While fans dreamed of watching their stars compete in major league play, the eventual realization of this dream meant the end of both leagues. Some historians contend that the Negro Southern League and Texas Negro League, as well as several of the stronger independent teams during the 1920s and 1930s, offered major league caliber play. The Negro National League folded under financial pressures at the end of the 1948 season. The Negro American League continued play into the late 1950s, but was no longer a stable circuit. As the talent pool of black baseball was absorbed into the integrated major and minor leagues, Negro League team owners were left without a product of sufficient quality to attract fans to the ballpark. Baseball history would not be complete without recognizing Negro League teams such as the Philadelphia Stars, Newark Eagles, Bacharach Giants, Nashville Elite Giants, St. Louis Stars, and the Memphis Red Sox. The Negro Leagues brought us such great players as Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Satchel Paige, Smokey Joe Williams, and Jackie Robinson. The players and teams of the Negro Baseball League have become a fundamental part of American culture and are forever woven into the fabric of professional baseball. The surviving players, some now in their seventies, are still as filled today with pride and love for the game as they were when they were young rookies on dusty sandlots. So today, I pay tribute to the Negro League by recognizing the deceased and surviving players and managers of the Lebanon Clowns, Negro League baseball team: John Forris ``Bigclue'' Griffith; Harry ``Hammerhead'' Harris, Jr.; Tommy ``Redeye'' Humes; Robert Earl ``Smiley'' Smith; Gilbert ``Sunny'' Oldham; Robert Oldham; Teddy ``Mutt'' Owens; Claude Britton; Bob ``Woods'' Oldham; L.D. ``Zeak'' Ward. George McGown, Jr.; Jerry ``Foots'' Oldham, Sr.; Robert L. ``Pondwater'' McClellan; Betty Lou Oldham; Bob White; Price Logue; Norton Whitley; Roy L. Clark; Kenny Andrews. James Shannon; Lee R. Rhodes; Carl Gilliam; Lonnie Gilliam; Howard Walker; Eddie Muirhead; Charles Walker; Pot Walker. Herman Denny; James H. Carter; Walter ``Rabbit'' Hastings; Robert Pincky; Charlie McAdoo; Jelly Walker; John C. Martin; Junior Donnell; Frank Simpson; Lonnie Neuble. Buck Hunt; Richard ``Boosem'' Owens; Elmer Draper; James Turner; Arthur Turner; C.D. Woodmore; Sammy Woodmore; Mose Alexander; James Harrison; Delmes Jackson. Thomas Tubbs; Honey Johnson; John Dockins; Charlie B. Hill; Thomas Hill; Joe L. Rhodes; Fred Clark; Ramond Roberts. [[Page S11656]] President: Thelma ``Slick'' McAdoo. Secretary: Anna Mae Palmer. Managers: Roy ``Shorty'' Catron; Odell Dockins; P.J. Skeens; Tom Walker; Carl ``Bowchicken'' Rhodes.