NEWS FROM THE NATIONAL
Several veterans of baseball’s Negro Leagues were missing from the National Sports Collectors Convention after funding for their appearance fell through.
They are a disappearing piece of American history.
The number of surviving members from the Negro Leagues dwindles with each passing year.
Seven were scheduled to make their first major card show appearance at this year’s National Sports Collectors Convention. The National committee had donated booth space to assist the elderly players but a last-minute loss of sponsorship money kept them at home.
Frank Evans, Jake Sanders, Sam Allen, Henry Elmore, Eugene Scruggs, Joseph Marbury and Clifton Laten were hoping to appear each day of the National. Three, including Evans, were planning to drive from their Alabama homes together but Evans, age 85, fell ill.
Plans were for the other four members of the group to fly in for the show, but an unidentified sponsor was unable to provide the expected funding, according to Samantha Newman, marketing consultant for PARA Sports and Entertainment, which was helping facilitate the appearance.
The seven appeared in games during the 1940s and 50s for teams that included the Kansas City Monarchs, Birmingham Black Barons, Cleveland Buckeyes, New York Black Yankees, Memphis Red Sox and Indianapolis Clowns.
In addition to signing autographs and talking with fans, the players were hoping to supplement their income by offering some of the memorabilia they had saved from their playing days to auction companies or other dealers.
"The items they have in their collections have never been on the open market. It’s stuff they got in their playing days and just held on to. Mr. Evans has a helmet that he made to wear under his cap. It’s a hard piece of plastic he kept taping back together."
After hearing of the plight, Beckett Media offered to pay for hotel rooms for the players but the overall cost of travel and expenses remained a sticking point. Newman said she was still hoping to secure last-minute funding but in the end, the appearance was cancelled. Newman was hoping the players could find other card show opportunities for the men before the end of the year.
"We’d still love to hear from anyone who’d like to have them appear at a show or anyone who’d like to know more about the memorabilia they have available. They’re willing to sign autographs anywhere as long as they’re healthy enough to get there."