NOV2015: THE 153rd ARTICLE FOR BASEBALL GURU
PART FOUR OF MY BASEBALL INTERVIEWS OVER THE YEARS
RAY NOBLE, LEON DAY, DOUBLE DUTY DANDRIDGE,
There was a time when ballplayers didn't make millions. There was a time when players had to have a second job to support themselves and their family. There was a time when blacks were not allowed to play Major league baseball. There was a time when blacks were not in the Major Leagues.
There have been times I've been able to interview ballplayers who were part of the above. It's been a mixed blessing.
Leon Day and Double Duty Dandridge were two Hall of Famer's from the Negro Leagues who if they played today would be playing for millions. I got to interview them both in their homes and both were living in relatively poor neighborhoods. Both of them made the Hall some years after I got to see them and both of them went out of the way to treat me well.
Leon was soft spoken, gentlemanly, and mentioned that he was pleased that there was some talk about putting Negro Leaguers into the Hall of Fame. I mentioned that if that were so he would surely be one of them. He thanked me for the compliment and then mentioned several Negro Leaguers he had played with that he felt should be considered for the honor…..Willie Wells, Oscar Charleston, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Buck Leonard, Judy Johnson, Rube Foster, Willie Wells, Bullet Joe Rogan, Turkey Stearnes, Martin Dihigo…..who by the way are all in there now.
He never lived long enough to see it happen for him.
Double Day was a different story! Although he was very friendly and made me feel comfortable in his apartment he was anything but quiet and soft spoken . He constantly boasted of his achievements and how he should have been in the Hall of Fame over many white ball players who had made it. He went out of his way to point out that even though some Negro League players had made it into the Major Leagues he and others should have made it long ago. When I mentioned that some baseball people were talking that Leon Day should be in there he said, "Yeah….BUT SO SHOULD I!!
Unlike Leon Day he did live long enough to see it happen for him. The very next day he called me and said, "Whitey has finally done something that took too long to happen.
Dandridge and Day lived in poor neighborhoods when I interviewed them. The apartments were simple and rather sparse.
Ray Noble's neighborhood was even worse. He was a backup catcher for the New York Giants during the 1951 and 1952 season's. He came from Cuba, played in the Negro leagues and was 32 years old when he made he Majors.
When I called about setting up an interview he asked why I wanted to interview him…..he mentioned that he was just a part time player during his short career and did nothing special.
I did get to interview him in his apartment. It was obvious that he was living through sad times. It was an uncomfortable interview for me. I couldn't help thinking to myself that something should be done for him. Unfortunately in those days the players had no real representation.
When he passed away a few years after very little was said about him.
I do think of him often.
NEXT MONTH GEORGE "SHOTGUN " SHUBA, MEL ALLEN