But despite how educational and rewarding the Detroit gathering had been, we in the Negro Leagues fandom missed the annual Malloy conference, the first of which was held in 1998 in Harrisburg. The Malloy conference was born from the brilliance and hard work of Negro Leagues Committee co-founders Dick Clark and Larry Lester, and from those humble beginnings, the Malloy — and correspondingly, SABR’s Negro Leagues Research Committee itself — became institutions that attracted the attention and respect of baseball historians, scholars and fans, many of whom, me included, would attend the Malloy conferences, some on a regular basis.
But Dick’s untimely, tragic passing disrupted the flow of the committee, then the COVID-19 pandemic put the kibosh on in-person gatherings for two solid years. So when we finally, at long last, came back together under the Malloy banner June 2-4 in Birmingham, it was a homecoming and in many ways a catharsis for all the challenges and barriers that hindered us.
Earlier this month in Birmingham, Larry said it best: “We are a family.”
And Birmingham was a reunion for the ages, and hopefully the start of many more. In this post, I won’t delve too much in depth about the conference proceedings, and I’ll save giving each presentation, discussion and other conference events in more detail in a week or two.
For now, I’ll tell the story of the 2022 Jerry Malloy Conference in photos. Many thanks to Sherman Jenkins and Signe Knutson for contribition pictures to this endeavor, and if anyone else has some photos they’d like to share, definitely let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scenes from the start of Friday’s conference proceedings.
The first stop on the bus tour of Birmingham landmarks was the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. The following photos are of artifacts and installations at the Institute. All photos by Ryan Whirty.
Across the street from the BCRI sits the 16th Street Baptist Church, the site of a KKK bombing that murder four little girls in 1963. Photos by Ryan Whirty.
The last stop on the tour was historic Rickwood Field, the oldest baseball stadium in America still in active use. Rickwood was built in 1910 and served as homefield for the Birmingham Black Barons, among other teams.
The proceedings during the day Saturday included more presentations, pointed discussions and the trivia contest.
The 22nd annual Jerry Malloy Conference concluded with a banquet and awards ceremony.
All in all, it was a fantastic conference, especially because, in addition to the former players, several descendants of Black ball greats attended. One was Harriet Hamilton, the daughter of Henry Kimbro, and Doug Foster, the great nephew of Rube Foster and grandson of Bill Foster. Doug said he was blown away by the Malloy conference.
“It’s been a great experience for me,” Doug said. “I’ve always felt like Rube Foster is someone who’s known in baseball circles, but beyond that not too many people know about him. [The conference) is just a credit to his legend and how important he was to American history.”
I’ll close this post (hopefully another article will be forthcoming) with a comment from another descendant of Negro Leagues, Rodney Page, son of New Orleans team owner and sports promoter Allen. When introduced at the banquet, Rodney had eloquent, heartfelt words about the Malloy conference and its “family.”
“All of us are here out of a sense of justice,” he said. “It’s so important that the truth of history be spoken. There is a truth and history that has to be cherished and preserved and passed on. Each of us has a calling, a calling that has to do with justice and truth.”