I got word yesterday that Gentleman Dave Malarcher will be the second Negro League figure to be inducted into the New Orleans Professional Baseball Hall of Fame! Once the late Herb Simpson became the first Negro Leaguer to be so honored last year, the floodgates are opening, and Gentleman Dave will enter the NOPBHOF during a ceremony during the New Orleans Zephyrs game on June 6!
In addition, I recently completed a feature on Malarcher for the Zephyrs’ 2015 game program that will hit the streets next week.
I’m thrilled with both of these developments, because there are many of us who believe Gentleman Dave simply hasn’t gotten the recognition and accolades he deserves. Dave Malarcher belongs in Cooperstown — like so many other Negro League greats do — but he remains shut out of the National Baseball Hall of Fame because once again, Cooperstown has shut the door to Negro Leaguers.
In addition, it’s certainly worthy to note, Dave Malarcher currently is also excluded from the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, even though he was one of the greatest player/managers in the history of America’s pastime.
So, now hopefully begins a trend that will see Gentleman Dave honored properly.
And in honor of his election into the NOPBHOF, I want to post a few thoughts from Dave himself — his ideas on fame, recognition, racism and self-respect. The first quote comes from a June 17, 1972, letter written on letterhead from Malarcher’s real estate business in Chicago and addressed and sent to dozens of former Negro Leaguers, encouraging them to help the National Baseball Hall of Fame chronicle the history of blackball:
“To the Forerunners Of The Black Baseball Players Now in Organized Baseball:
“This letter is addressed to each and all of the old Negro professional baseball players — those living, and to the relatives or descendants of those now dead — who played baseball as a livelihood from the time of the end of the Civil War down to 1946, when the first Negro player was admitted to Organized Baseball.
“I urge you, or any relative, or descendant, to complete and send your questionnaire, or the record of any deceased player, to The National Baseball Library at Cooperstown, New York. …
“… the history of Negro baseball players reveals the fact that members and peoples of the Negro race in America were engaged in and starring in baseball as long as the game has been played here. …
“And now, the efforts of the National Baseball Hall of Fame to include all professional baseball players in its records and history is a valiant demonstration of its will to ‘right the wrong’ done the Negro player in this phase of American sport.”
That excerpt strikes me, today, as very ironic but noble, especially given that Dave Malarcher hasn’t been admitted to many halls of fame, even after all these years and despite his worthiness. Gentleman Dave was always, well, a gentleman, a humble, self-effacing and selfless soul who always believed in the eventual righteousness of the human spirit and the value of giving of one’s self for the benefit of the greater good.
The second quote is from a Feb. 9, 1974, letter from Dave to Joe Molitor Jr. of Chicago’s Old Timers Baseball Association, and I think it perfectly encapsulates the intellect and honor of the man:
“It is to be remembered that the history of American Baseball is far vaster than merely the history of Organized Baseball. It comprises the great game from the sandlots and campus, the backwoods, and the city independent teams to the countless yet independent and unorganized teams throughout North and South America, Cuba, Mexico, and the Virgin Islands. Thus The Old Timers Association Of Chicago is one representative of the beginning and continuation of what we so jubilantly describe, ‘The Great American National Game!'”
‘Nuff said, methinks …