Herb Simpson, now (top) and then (below)
I just spoke with Herb Simpson, who recently became the first Negro Leaguer to be inducted into the New Orleans Professional Baseball Hall of Fame, and who, next month, will again be the guest of the Seattle Mariners for their annual African-American Heritage Day. Herb is the last known survivor of the 1946 Seattle Steelheads, and he was honored by the M’s last year as well, as the picture below (courtesy Mariners photo Ben VanHouten) shows:
During last year’s Mariners celebration, the team inducted into its Hall of Fame probably the greatest Mariner of all — Ken Griffey Jr.
But speaking of halls of fame … Herb Simpson, well more than a month ago, was, as stated, inducted into the NOPBHF, which is sponsored by the Triple-A Zephyrs.
It seems that at the time of the NOPBHF induction ceremony, Herb was promised that he would receive, within a couple weeks, a Hall of Fame plaque in his honor.
Well, as of this afternoon (Saturday), he’s still waiting for it, well more than a month after he was told it would be coming. In fact, he said just now that the Z’s told him he would be getting it today. But it’s 3 p.m., and the day is almost over.
But someone is recognizing Herb and his accomplishments. Below is a beautiful statement about Herb’s induction into the NOLA Hall by Rodney Page, the son of Allen Page, the local promotor, team owner and executive who was the towering figure over New Orleans blackball for decades.
Rodney has wonderful words for Herb:
In Honor of Herb Simpson
Congratulations, kudos and much respect are in order for the induction of Herb Simpson into the New Orleans Professional Baseball Hall of Fame. What an acknowledgement, recognition and accomplishment of a life well-lived. In many respects, Herb Simpson is a forerunner, a beacon of light, a chosen vessel stepping through a portal into the realm of recognized achievement, long overdue.
Hopefully, his induction will increase awareness and much deserved recognition of the rich, fertile, significant history of Negro Leagues Baseball in New Orleans. The evidence is unequivocal, undeniable and without argument – however best stated or received. From my humble yet authentic perspective, Herb Simpson is representative of deserving others who have made major contributions to New Orleans baseball history, and more specifically — New Orleans Negro Leagues baseball history.
Yes, I submit without reservation that there are others who, without question, meet the criteria for selection to the New Orleans Professional Baseball Hall of Fame: “citizens of greater New Orleans (birth or re-location), outstanding baseball achievement as a player, coach or administrator that has brought recognition to the Greater New Orleans area, and be of good character and reputation.” For this reality to be fully realized, diligent research is required along with a willingness to “look deeper” perhaps from a different perspective.
Herb Simpson, thank you for who you are! Thank you for your journey in life! Thank you for your baseball accomplishments! Thank you for the many you represent – the lives, voices, faces, and memories of those from the past (often overlooked, forgotten or unaware of) who were major participants and contributors in New Orleans Negro Leagues baseball history!
Herb Simpson, I am extremely happy for your recognition and success. I know that my father, Allen C. Page, would be also. You have brought significance and meaning to others along your chosen path. I hope to meet you in person someday.
May 26, 2014
Now that is a tribute!