May 13, 2005

Friday, May 13, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) - Fourteen Negro League players, including 102-year-old Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, participated in a ceremony honouring them before the Washington Nationals' game against the Chicago Cubs on Friday night.

Radcliffe, the oldest living former Negro League player, delivered the ceremonial first pitch by handing a ball to Nationals first base coach Don Buford while sitting on a golf cart behind home plate. Radcliffe said baseball has changed a lot since he played.

"It ain't like it used to be. There used to be some good pitchers. There aren't ballplayers like they're used to be. It's a shame," he said.

He earned his nickname because he would often pitch one game of a doubleheader, and play catcher in the other.

The other players present were Luther Atkinson, Eddie Banks, Jimmy "Beady" Bland, Al Burrows, Frank Evans, Willie Fordham, Ed Hudson, Ernie Lewis, Bert Simmons, William "Sonny" Randall, Jake Sanders, James Tillman Sr. and Jim Wheaton.

"I respect those individuals and appreciate what they did, what they had to put up with, what they had to endure. A majority of them never had an opportunity to play in the major leagues and a lot of them had the ability to do that. It's a shame they didn't have the opportunity," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said.

"It certainly is a very important part of why I am where I am today."