It is the purpose of the Judy Johnson Memorial Foundation to educate the general public on the interesting forgotten history of Negro League Baseball and to provide an illustration of the extraordinary athletic ability of the countless of thousands of Negro League players who played in virtual obscurity in the 60 some years that they were denied the opportunity to compete in the world of organized professional baseball simply because of the color of their skin. Many of these Negro League players have never been given the appropriate credit and recognition for the sacrifices that they made in being denied their basic civil rights. Today’s major-league players, who make millions of dollars each year, are basically ignorant of the history of the Negro Leagues that went before them. Some people don’t want to be reminded of segregation. But we need to be reminded so that it will never be possible for this type of injustice to be repeated. Segregated blacks playing Negro League Baseball made remarkable successes in proving that blacks were equal or superior to their white counterparts who were allowed to play major-league baseball. Negro League Baseball is a monument to black achievement in America.
For over half a century black men were barred from the professional organized baseball ranks by the unwritten rule, exhibiting their talents behind a rigid color barrier, and behind this color line there developed a uniquely American spectacle called Negro Baseball. Men of extraordinary athletic ability passed their lives in obscurity, absent from the sports pages of the white newspapers, obliterated from American Sports history. They were saints and sinners, college professors and illiterates, serious men and clowns, teetotalers and Saturday night drunks. They were professional baseball players, some of them the equals of the greatest major-leaguers, with one other common tie: they were all Negros. Each year, black teams took to the road in early spring, and from then until late fall, they played a ball game almost every day, meeting black teams and white teams in farm villages and big cities, on sandlots and in major-league stadiums. In the winter they went to Florida, California, Cuba or Mexico and played some more. Negro baseball was played the year round.
The importance of the Negro Leagues transcended the world of sport. A small group of black men, gifted with remarkable skills, reached far above the menial and the mundane. In the process they became worldly, and some became wise. Scuffling to make a living playing the game that they loved, these men became symbols of competence and achievement for all black people. Because they provided joy and excitement in their dramatic quest for victories and Negro League pennants, they enriched life in black America. When their victories came against white opponents, they undermined segregation itself. This period of separation is remote from the memory of the majority of the current populace. Today’s younger generation, as well as most of the older generation now, do not fully understand the sociological factors which prohibited black and white players from engaging in competition together. Consequently, they know and understand even less about the men who were destined to demonstrate their abilities to a comparatively small segment of American society. For this reason the Judy Johnson Memorial Foundation is dedicated to keeping alive some of the rich history of Negro League Baseball.
And who were these men who displayed their talent in virtual obscurity? For every Babe Ruth there was a Josh Gibson or Mule Suttles. For every Walter Johnson there was a Smokey Joe Williams or Bullet Joe Rogan. Black baseball gave us shin guards (Bill Monroe), the batting helmet (Willie Wells), night games (J.L. Wilkinson), and the hit-and-run bunt (Rube Foster). It also gave us Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Larry Doby, Don Newcombe, Satchel Paige, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks, all of whom learned their baseball skills from veteran teachers and coaches of the Negro Leagues. Without Negro League Baseball, it is fair to say, when the white game was ready to open the doors, there might not have been any black players ready to enter.
Black teams, representing black communities formed a replica of major-league baseball, separate and unequal in everything but athletic ability, Though it was virtually ignored by the dominate white culture, in the black community the Negro League was a cultural institution of the first magnitude.
Judy Johnson, a lifelong resident of Wilmington, Delaware played Negro League Baseball from 1920 to 1936, playing on three different teams. Judy started Negro League play with the Hilldale team in nearby Darby, PA. He played there from 1920 to 1929 then took a player-manager position with the Homestead Grays from Pittsburgh, PA. He played there for one year before coming back to the Hilldale team in 1931. Judy’s allegiance was with Hilldale but they were having financial troubles with the depression coming on. He then accepted an offer from the Pittsburgh Crawfords where he played out his career from 1932 to 1936.
Growing public sentiment over the dissatisfaction that Negro Leaguers had been ignored even after Jackie Robinson crossed the color line in 1947 created such pressure on the Hall of Fame that they finally relented and began inducting some token Negro League players. The only reason that they had not been inducted before was that they were black and were not permitted to play in the major leagues before 1947. Judy Johnson’s outstanding career produced a lifetime batting average of over .300 and he finally gained major recognition becoming only the sixth Negro Leaguer to become inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975. The first Negro Leaguer inducted into the Hall of Fame was Satchel Paige in 1971.
Up until 2006 only 18 Negro Leaguers had been inducted into the Hall of Fame. A few years ago, Major League Baseball endowed the National Baseball Hall of Fame with a quarter million dollars to do a complete reasearch of the credentials of those Negro Leaguers who would be deemed possibly worthy of induction by a research committee of knowledgeable Negro League historians. In the fall of 2005 this research committee submitted a list of 94 possible candidates that would be reviewed by a Selection Committee. The Selection Committee decided on 39 candidates that would go before a 12 man Voting Committee on the 26th and 27th of February, 2006. A candidate would have to receive a minimum of 9 votes from the voting committee to be able to gain induction into the Hall of Fame.
The results of the Election Committee's vote on the Negro Leaguers going into the Hall of Fame brought devastating news. Buck O’Neil had not been voted in! If anyone had a lock on going in it should have been Buck O'Neil. It was understood that no one on the Voting Committee was willing to announce his vote. The committee as a whole did an unbelievable thing in keeping Buck out. Those four or more members of the Committee who did not vote for Buck should publicly announce the way they voted and why. It’s understandable why the committee did not vote to induct Minnie Minoso. Minnie should not have been on the list of candidates given to the Election Committee in the first place as he did not play long enough in the Negro Leagues to be considered. He should be considered by the Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee since he played the vast majority of his career in Major League Baseball.
The Committee voted to include a white woman owner and another white owner who never played Negro League Baseball. Why was this done. Only because they promoted Negro League Baseball, albeit for their own benefit in being team owners. How can you say that Buck did not have adequate playing credentials to be inducted when these two owners had no playing credentials at all. Buck has promoted Negro League Baseball more than anyone else in the world and had excellent playing credentials as well. Buck is well known to have said that "I was right on time", meaning that he played at the right time with and against some of the greatest players of all time. Now the Negro League Voting Committee has taken that time away from him at the age of 94.
Judy Johnson Memorial Foundation with sponsorship by the City of Wilmington, the State of Delaware works with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, a class A Carolina League minor league baseball organization affiliated with the Kansas City Royals of the American League of Major League Baseball, to promote an event to memorialize Judy Johnson, a now deceased former Negro League Baseball player who was immortalized by induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975.
This event is held annually in the month of August and is known as “Judy Johnson Night, A Tribute to Negro League Baseball”. This event is held each year in the month of August on the date of a regularly scheduled baseball game for the Blue Rocks at their home ballpark, Frawley Stadium. The field at the stadium is named for Judy Johnson. Each year we honor a former Negro League player either deceased or living in honor of Judy Johnson with up to ten former Negro League players in attendance. We have the US Postal Service conduct a postal cancellation. We hold a large silent auction to raise funds for year long Negro League tributes that the JJMF contribute to.
The one problem that we expect is that since these players played during the 1920’s, 30’ & 40’s; they are getting old and frail and may not be able to attend too much longer. We hope to educate the general public on the interesting history of Negro League Baseball. We award two scholarships in Judy Johnson’s memory to deserving athletes who plan to attend college that year. In addition we expect to give away to the approx. 5,000 fans attending the game a commemorative Negro League baseball card, the artwork which will be donated by a nationally known sports artist Mike Mellett, from Covina, CA.
Here is a listing of the previous year commemorative Negro League baseball cards that are still available.
Price List of Previous Year Judy Johnson Negro League Night Cards
1996 Judy Johnson plain card, signed by Artist, Mike Mellett, $20. In short supply
1996 Judy Johnson card signed by Artist & Postal Canceled, $25 In short supply
1997 Buck O’Neil plain card, $5
1997 Buck O’Neil card signed by Buck O’Neil, now deceased & Artist, $20
1997 Buck O’Neil card signed by Artist and Postal Canceled, $10.
1997 Buck O’Neil card signed by Buck, now deceased & Artist and Postal Canceled, $25.
1998 Gene Benson plain card, $5
1998 Gene Benson card signed by Artist & Postal Cancelled, $10
1998 Gene Benson card signed by Gene Benson, now deceased, & Artist, $10
1998 Gene Benson card signed by Gene, now deceased,& Artist, and Postal Canceled, $15.
1999 Josh Gibson plain card, $5
1999 Josh Gibson card signed by Josh Gibson, Jr., now deceased, & Artist, $10
1999 Josh Gibson card signed by Artist & postal cancelled, $10
1999 Josh Gibson card signed by Josh, & Artist & Postal Canceled, $15
2000 Toots Ferrell plain card, $5
2000 Toots Ferrell card signed by Toots Ferrell, now deceased, & Artist, $10
2000 Toots Ferrell card signed by Artist & postal cancelled $10, only 1 left
2000 Toots Ferrell card signed by Toots, now deceased, Artist & Postal Canceled, $15
2001 Leon Day plain card, $5
2001 Leon Day card signed by Artist and Postal Cancelled $10
2001 Leon Day card signed by Leon’s Widow, Mrs. Leon Day & Artist, $10
2001 Leon Day card signed by Mrs. Day, Artist & Postal Canceled, $15
2002 Jackie Robinson plain card, $5
2002 Jackie Robinson card signed by Artist and Postal Cancelled (3 diff), $10
2002 Jackie Robinson card signed by Daughter, Sharon Robinson and Artist, $10
2002 Jackie Robinson card signed by Artist and Daughter, & Postal Cancelled, $15
2003 Walter “Buck” Leonard plain card, $5
2003 Walter “Buck” Leonard signed by Widow, Lugenia Leonard, $10
2003 Walter “Buck” Leonard signed by Lugenia & Artist and Postal Canceled, $15.
2004 Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe plain card, $5
2004 Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe signed by Artist & Postal Cancelled ,$10
2004 Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe card signed by Duty then 102 years old, now deceased, $20
2004 Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe signed by Duty & Artist and Postal Cancelled, $25
2005 Bill “Ready” Cash plain card, $5
2005 Bill “Ready” Cash signed by Artist & Bill Cash, now 89 years old, $10
2005 Bill “Ready” Cash signed by Artist & Cash, and Postal Cancelled, $15
2006 Mahlon Duckett plain card, $5
2006 Mahlon Duckett Postal Cancelled, 7$
2006 Mahlon Duckett signed by Mahlon Duckett, now 84 years old, $10
2006 Mahlon Duckett signed by Mahlon and Postal Cancelled, $15
2007 Harold Gould plain card $5
2007 Harold Gould signed by artist & Harold now 83 years old $10
2007 Harold Gould card signed by Artist and Postal Cancelled $10
2007 Harold Gould signed by Artist & Gould, and Postal Cancelled, $15
2008 Stanley Glenn plain card $5
2008 Stanley Glenn signed by artist & Stanley now 82 years old $10
2008 Stanley Glenn card signed by Artist and Postal Cancelled $10
2008 Stanley Glenn signed by Artist & Glenn, and Postal Cancelled, $15
Please add 5% of total price for postage, MINIMUM $1.00
Many of the postal cancellations are done with two of the old 20¢ 1982 Jackie Robinson stamps and other older stamps which were purchased on the secondary market and are quite expensive. All of the money raised will go to scholarships awarded in Judy Johnson’s name and for futher tributes to Judy Johnson and the Negro Leagues.
President, Judy Johnson Memorial Foundation
610 Kilburn Rd. Wilmington, DE 19803 Phone (302) 478-8763