Above is a photo I received from David Eskenazi, a popular photographer and ardent Negro Leagues advocate in the Pacific Northwest. It shows New Orleans’ own Herb Simpson in uniform for the 1952 Spokane Indians.
Eskenazi recently uncovered the previously unknown photo of Herb, whose professional baseball career included numerous successful stints in the national Negro League scene as well as the upper echelons of the post-integration upper levels of the minor leagues.
At a couple of those stops, Herb became the first African-American player on his team’s roster and/or to suit up in the league in question.
Herb, before his death in early 2015, was ubiquitous on the NOLA media and Negro Leagues advocacy scene. He was also a star in Seattle, where the Mariners hosted and honored him several times over the years.
I had the extreme honor to travel with Herb to Seattle for one of those ceremonies, the Mariners’ African-American heritage day. It was a very impressive and touching tribute to a baseball trailblazer, and I was humbled, and still am, to have been there to witness it.
And over recent years I wrote several articles about Herb and his impact on baseball, including this one about his time in Spokane, this one and this one about his visit to Seattle, and this one about his passing.
Many thanks to David Eskenazi for sending the pic! It’s a fantastic addition to Herb’s rich legacy and honored memory.
If you want to read about the superb outreach efforts of the Mariners RBI Club, check out its Web site here. It includes fantastic articles and testimonials by RBI Club beat writer Mikaela Cowles and Lorri Ericson! When I was in Seattle, I also met local freelance photographer Rick Takagi, who photographed Herb a few times.