September 16, 2002

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2002 (UPI) -- Capital Comment --

At the direction of Oklahoma Republican Rep. J.C. Watts, Congress is hosting a tribute to veterans of the Negro Baseball Leagues with a luncheon, a House resolution honoring league veterans and a news conference later this week.

Close to 100 Negro league veterans, including Willie Mays, Harlem's World Series Little League team and other celebrities will join Watts for the salute on Capitol Hill. "The influence of the Negro Baseball Leagues on sports and America is one of the most underrated chapters in our nation's history," Watts said. "Some of the men who played ball before desegregation went on to become household names.

There were many players who could keep up with today's stars, yet we will never know their stories. We think nothing of seeing an all-star man of color hit homerun after homerun. It is difficult to realize we would not see that same player a half century ago. As a sportsman myself, I can wish for no other goal except for my neighbor to judge me on my performance rather than the color of my skin," Watts said.