Ted Knorr at the grave of his hero, Rap Dixon, in Steelton, Pa.
Last December I wrote about my buddy and SABR Jerry Malloy conference roommate, Ted Knorr of Harrisburg, Pa., and his efforts to shine a light on his hero – segregation-era star outfielder Rap Dixon. Ted earnestly believes — and I’m convinced that he is right – that Rap Dixon belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
This will be a recurring theme on this blog over the next few weeks — the fact that the BHOF has once again closed its doors to pre-integration African-American players. There’s a lot of us in the tight-knit community of Negro Leagues researchers, historians and fans — Ted and I certainly aren’t the only ones — who feel that’s a further injustice to the memories of so many phenomenal black players who, as a result, still, to a certain extent, remain in the shadows of hardball history.
And there’s no better place, Ted and I feel, to start than with Herbert “Rap” Dixon. To that end, Ted continues to tireless advocate, educate and overall just spread the word about Rap and the extremely sturdy arguments for his admission to the BHOF.
“Locally [in Harrisburg], he is definitely a hero and someone folks feel should be in the Hall. Else, they are usually amazed at his exploits and wonder how such a player could be unknown.
“I always use that realization as a teaching moment to point out that, while Rap Dixon was a unique ballplayer, there are so many other unique greats largely unknown to the mainstream. Even among hardcore baseball fans, the Negro Leagues are largely an unknown.
“This is a failing of the baseball establishment — Major League Baseball and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.”
So here’s an update, penned by Ted himself, on what he’s been up to to promote Rap’s case since my last blog post about him …
Ted Knorr, right, with fellow Rap supporters.
By Ted Knorr
Well, I speak wherever I can, including this past August at my wife’s family reunion — they are now big Rap Dixon fans. This year I had two events in Steelton, Rap’s adopted hometown, including one this past Saturday.
But my favorite audience this year was at the 18th annual Jerry Malloy Negro League Research Conference when I was able to pinch-hit for a presenter who could not make it — it is always nice to speak to a knowledgeable crowd
In addition, I debuted an activity book for kids that features 18 former Negro League players, including Rap. I gave a copy to all attendees at the conference and have made one appearance in a Harrisburg school with more coming in both Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and anywhere else a kind, considerate, interested donor desires me to speak. The book was created by myself and Floyd Stokes, who runs an educational non-profit focused on encouraging kids to read.
Accordingly, Floyd and I have been appearing at literacy events in the central Pennsylvania area with the book and a set of trivia questions designed to spark interest in the Negro Leagues, with an emphasis on Rap Dixon.
Last month, I did an all-too-quick appearance on a local TV show touting Rap Dixon as a candidate for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Earlier in the year, Rap received some media coverage when the Steelton Borough Council dedicated a dugout at a Little League Park in his honor.
I suppose the craziest thing I did this year in support of Rap was sitting home one night in May (with three fellow travelers) and voting 1,000 times each for Rap Dixon to be one of the four Negro Leaguers recognized during the All-Star Game as part of an MLB sponsored event. The eventual winners were Satchel, Buck, Cool and Josh, but I’d very much like to know how our 3,000-vote, one-night effort ranked — voting 1,000 times over the internet in six hours.
I maintain two pages on Facebook dedicated to the Negro Leagues — one called Rap Dixon for the Hall of Fame that aims at keeping Rap’s name and achievements alive; the other called The Other Major League, which endeavors to make the case that the Negro Leagues were a third major league during the 1920-1945 period. Needless to say, Rap pops up there fairly often.
Ted’s friend and partner-in-crime, Floyd Stokes, using the activity book to educate youngsters at the dedication of a mini-library at the Steelton Municipal Building earlier this month.
What I have not been doing is writing a 3000-word biography of Rap Dixon to which I have been assigned – too long ago for me to mention without sincere and deserved embarrassment – by SABR’s Biography Project. I must get focused and get that important task underway and complete in 2016.
Speaking of 2016, what might we expect next year? …
Well, keep on keepin’ on … a second activity book, perhaps a presentation at the Malloy, more engagements around the Pennsylvania mid-state region promoting Rap … Who knows, maybe I put pen to paper and complete the Dixon biography.
The one thing I know is that until the baseball establishment — the Hall of Fame — recognizes Rap Dixon alongside Paul Waner, KiKi Cuyler and Goose Goslin, all white outfield contemporaries of Dixon, my job is not complete.
Many thanks to Ted for contributing this blog commentary and for continuing to push for historical, hardball justice. To Ted I certainly say, “Thanks much, and good luck with your efforts on Rap Dixon, and see you in La Crosse, Wisc., for the 2016 Malloy!”
On one final note, if anyone out there would like to submit an essay, commentary or other sort of exposition, including reactions to previous posts, as a guest columnist for Home Plate Don’t Move, I’d love to take a look at it and hopefully publish it! I’m eager to present new and fresh voices here to balance out my rambling and rabble-rousing. 🙂 Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.