May 30, 2005

Cleveland Buckeye Star Passes Away At Age 80

Robert "Bob" Aldridge, former Cleveland Buckeyes and Negro National League star during the late 1940s, passed away May 30, 2005 in Tallahassee. Aldridge, who finished his career with the Richmond Giants, was 80 years old.

Full Obituary:

Tallahasseean played for several Negro League teams

By Ryan Boyd
Posted on Wed, Jun. 01, 2005


Robert "Bob" Aldridge, a Tallahassee resident and former Negro League baseball player, died Monday. He was 80.

Aldridge died from complications from diabetes, said his daughter, Shirley Speights, a former Tallahassee resident who now teaches in Iceland.

Speights has fond memories of her father's playing days.

"My father always cherished and loved the game," Speights said.

"On Saturday afternoons, we would go to Al Lopez Field, and I would sit in the section they had for the colored people, and the players would come up and bring me baseballs, bats and they would put hats on my head," Speights said, recalling her visits to the Tampa field then used by black players.

Aldridge played 10 years (from 1945-55) with the Cleveland Buckeyes of the Negro League, and several other teams within the Florida State Negro League.

George Foxx, a family friend, completed a 20-minute documentary last month with Aldridge, while the former player was confined to Capital Regional Medical Center. During the taping, Aldridge was presented with flowers and three hats (honorary coach, spectator and vacation).

Though ill, Aldridge managed to say his hellos and good-byes.

"I've been around a long time and I played 10 years with the Cleveland Buckeyes and Richmond Giants," he said on tape. "We all got to go one day or another, and I want to say hello to everyone."

After meeting Aldridge for the first time three years ago, and after listening to his stories of playing baseball, Foxx said he felt compelled to get to know Aldridge on a personal level.

"I used to talk with him and he would tell me about his legendary days and I became intrigued by that," said Foxx, who is friends with Speights.

"Bob gave me important knowledge that I can pass on to other young guys," he said. "He always said, 'try to do your very best and always be kind to others.'"

In his playing days, Aldridge made $275 a month. That made him one of the highest-paid players at the time, Speights said.

Aldridge was born in Quincy in 1925 and received his high school diploma in Hillsborough County. After his baseball career came to an end, Aldridge became a technical engineer at Grace Chemical Plant in Tampa, where he worked for 35 years.

Speights remembers her father as a kind, loving man.

"The way he raised me and the things he contributed to my personal values will always linger with me," said Speights, who has a doctorate degree in education. "My father always stressed that education for a black woman is the key to success."

In addition to his daughter, Aldridge is survived by his former wife of 45 years, Leila Aldridge, and two grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held 11 a.m. Saturday at Aiken's Funeral Home, 2708 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Tampa.

Instead of flowers, the family is requesting donations for the Belmont Heights Little League baseball team. Donations can be sent to: 1503 Warman Court, Tampa, FL 33613, in honor of Robert Aldridge.