Rev. Greason recalls his Rochester days

Rev. Bill Greason, right, with SABR Negro Leagues Committee chairman Larry Lester at the 2022 Jerry Malloy Conference in June.

It’s been about three months since the 2022 Jerry Malloy Conference in Birmingham, and I wish I could have gotten this written and posted before now, but I’m glad I’m finally doing it because it blends two of my favorite baseball topics – the Negro Leagues and my hometown Rochester Red Wings.

While at the Malloy a got to speak with Rev. Bill Greason, whose top-level baseball career began with several seasons on the mound in the late 1940s/early 1950s Birmingham Black Barons, at the time one of the best teams in the Negro American League.

Arguably Greason’s most well known achievement while with the Black Barons was pitching in the very last Negro World Series in 1948 between the NAL champion Black Barons and the dynastic Negro National League kings, the Homestead Grays. Although the Grays overwhelmed the Barons, four games to one, Greason – who’s also celebrating his 98th birthday today! – was the Birmingham hurler to nab the Barons’ only win in the series.

Aside from his time with the Barons, Greason is perhaps best known, at least in the U.S., for, in 1954, becoming the second African-American player for the St. Louis Cardinals and the first African-American pitcher for the Cards. Greason’s debut with the Cards came roughly a month after Tom Alston became the clubs very first Black player. More on Alston a little bit further down in this post.

As for the second favorite topic in this discussion, I’ve been a Rochester Red Wings fan since I was a little pisher growing up in the Rochester area and catching Wings games at the old Silver Stadium in the 1970s and all through the ’80s. As I aged, so did Silver, which gradually became a history-filled but dingy and unwelcoming ballpark with support columns blocking views all around the stands and parking lots so close to the stadium that foul balls routinely shattered the windshields of unsuspecting fans.

I also watched guys like Glenn Gulliver, Floyd Rayford, Bobby Bonner, Storm Davis, Larry Sheets and, yes, the Ripken boys, Cal Jr. and Billy. I clearly remember staying after one game to get players’ autographs on the field, and joining the throng of kids who surrounded the talented but troubled budding superstar Alan Wiggins while he was on a short rehab assignment from the Orioles in Triple-A. (The Alan Wiggins story itself is a tragic one.)

However, it wasn’t until much later as an adult that I started to dive a little bit into the Red Wings history. I learned that the Wings, having been founded in 1889, are the oldest continuously operating franchise in North America below the major-league level.

I also learned that in 1957-58 the Red Wings administration and Rochester community revolutionized baseball ownership by selling shares in the team to members of the public through the Rochester Community Baseball, Inc. company. The process made the Wings one of the few, truly community-owned franchises, while also saving the Rochester franchise entirely.

And as a kid I knew that the Orioles were the Wings’ parent club, and that toward the end of that relationship things got pretty rocky and acrimonious between the two clubs, but I had no idea that before the Orioles era in Rochester, the Cardinals were the Wings’ parent organization.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, April 6, 1959.

The Wings served as the Cards’ top minor league club from 1929 to 1960. That meant, as I subsequently learned, that Rochester rosters at one time included National Baseball Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Johnny Mize and Red Schoendienst, among other Cardinals greats.

The crux of this post, naturally then, is the confluence of these two threads – Negro Leagues legends who played for the Rochester Red Wings. It’s a topic I previously explored in this post about slugging star Luke Easter’s brilliant career and legacy with the Wings.

But while Luscious Luke is generally considered the greatest Rochester Red Wing of all time (other outside contenders are similarly slugging Russ Derry, and several members of the ’71 team, the franchise’s greatest club, such as Don Baylor and Bobby Grich), he certainly wasn’t the only Black player to make his mark with the Wings during the post-Jackie period of large-scale integration of Organized Baseball.

The Wings rosters of the 1950s were routinely dotted with former Negro League stars and other Black players, including Alston for periods in 1954; Mexico native Ruben Amaro and Bob Gibson in 1958; one time Memphis Red Sox pitcher Marshall Bridges and infielder Billy Harrell, who went from the Black Barons to play in MLB for a few seasons, in 1959; Gibson, Easter, pitcher Frank Barnes (former Indianapolis Clown), leftfielder and Tuskegee grad Leon Wagner, and outfielder Ellis Burton in 1960.

Also in that 1950s stew of talent was Bill Greason, a native of Atlanta who eventually became one of the best known, most loved figures in Birmingham, first as a baseball player, then as a minister and Civil Rights activist.

Along the way, Greason did two hitches in the Marines, including during World War II in active battle zones in the Pacific Theater, even taking part in the landing at Iwo Jima in 1945; played in multiple Negro League East-West All-Star games with the Black Barons; enjoyed numerous successful seasons in Latin America in Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico, including the absolutely loaded 1954-55 Santurce squad in the Puerto Rican Winter League that cleaned up in the Caribbean postseason and stands as one of the greatest winter league teams in history; became, in 1952, the first African-American player in Organized Baseball in Oklahoma with the Double-A Oklahoma City Indians to start a legendary stint in OKC; and receiving a theology degree, advocating for Civil Rights and being active at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in the 1960s. (The church was tragically thrust into history in 1963 when Klan members set off a bomb there, killing four little girls.)

In “The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, James A. Riley described Greason as being “a successful pitcher, [but] as a batter he was relatively ineffective and showed a high strikeout ratio.” Riley added that Greason was a “right-handed hurler [who] mixed a curve and a fastball effectively.”

Frederick C. Bush, in the official SABR bio of Greason, wrote that “Greason’s major-league career consisted of only three appearances, but his contributions to baseball history should not be underestimated.”

Now, at the age of 98, Greason is the oldest living Negro Leagues player. Still living in the Birmingham area, preaching regularly and teaching Bible classes, Greason was one of the guests of honor at the 2022 Jerry Malloy Conference in Birmingham June 1-4.

D&C, Sept. 1, 1958

Rev. Greason was honored at the conference’s concluding banquet and awards ceremony on the night of June 4, when I was fortunate enough to have a few minutes with him to talk about his time in Rochester with the Red Wings. I didn’t want to take up too much of his time, because I know he’s constantly being approached for interviews, autographs and photo ops.

During our conversation I asked him to assess his experiences in the ROC, which ran from 1956-59. He didn’t talk too extensively – he’s 97 and I’m sure he gets weary from interview and autograph requests, something for which I’m not sure I’d have the patience he and other old ballplayers possess – and it was getting late after the banquet, so I kept our chat short.

To set the scene, during a preseason stint with Rochester in 1955, during spring training Greason told the Democrat & Chronicle newspaper that he was disappointed that he was able to stick with the Cardinals, but that he gave it his best.

“I went up to St. Louis last year in the middle of the season. I guess the pressure was too much, I was trying too hard. Yes, [Cardinals manager Eddie] Stanky started me early. I went against the Cubs, got out of there after the third inning. I didn’t have much of a record {0-1), but I pitched only four innings.”

However, by that time Greason was already gaining positive attention elsewhere in the baseball world, including Baltimore Orioles second baseman Bobby Young.

“He’s a good pitcher,” Young told D&C sportswriter Paul Pinckney in March 1955. “He should help Rochester a lot this season, provided the Cardinals don’t take him up.”

Greason officially pitched for the Wings from 1956-59; he was 31 during his first season in Rochester. During that span, he pitched in a total of 107 games over the four International League seasons and accumulated an overall record of 16-18.

However, only five of those appearances came in 1956, meaning the vast majority of available stats for Greason’s time in Rochester were gathered in the final three seasons. Across those three years, Greason’s ERA ranged from 3.43 in ’57 and 5.59 in ’59 as he pitched 346 innings, including six complete games. He amassed 195 bases on balls versus 266 strikeouts. Unfortunately, saves were not a recorded statistic at that time in the IL.

D&C, May 13, 1957

The reverend said he was welcomed warmly in Rochester, and he enjoyed the city and his overall experience.

“They responded well to me,” he said of Wings fans, “and I did pretty well as a pitcher.”

Unfortunately, Greason occasionally experienced elbow maladies while in Rochester – he spent several short stints on the DL and needed cortisone shots in his elbow a few times – and he probably came out of the bullpen more than he was in the starting rotation. Greason, like many Black and white players, also pitched in Latin America during the winters, putting more strain on his arm.

But despite the elbow troubles, Greason persisted, by spring training 1959 he was managing just fine and just about at full strength. He displayed his prowess during a five-inning, one-hit, winning performance in a preseason contest against the Texas League’s Tulsa Oilers in Daytona Beach. Reported the D&C:

“But Greason was the reason for [Wings manager Cot] Deal’s game-ending smile. ‘We won a ball game,’ the Rochester pilot said softly. ‘Bill had some arm trouble while pitching winter ball, but he looked fine today. One hit – that should have been caught – three bases on balls and two strikeouts – not bad. Not bad, at all.

“‘Jim Dudley (trainer) worked on Greason’s arm after the game. He told me that Bill had nothing more than the usual soreness expected at this stage. That gave me a lift after losing three games in a row,’” Deal added.

Greason reinforced the positive impression a week or so later in an exhibition contest against the Phoenix Stars of the Arizona-Mexico League, when he not only turned in a sterling performance – five innings, no runs, two walks, four strikeouts and two measly singles – but cracked a 370-foot homer himself.

D&C, April 18, 1959

Many of his appearances for the Wings came in long relief, and although he posted a cumulative losing record for the Wings, he frequently put in sterling performances on the mound, his low-scoring teammates wasted those hurling talents with paltry offense. News articles from his time in Rochester reported that Greason usually had excellent control on the mound, with lots of strikeouts.

Overall, Greason said his arm was well enough to fling the pill for the Wings.

“It was a need [for the team],” he said of relief work. “You can’t throw every day, so I didn’t mind [relieving]. My arm held out, and I enjoyed it.”

Greason was joined on the Wings’ roster by several other Black players, shortly after Tom Alston, who broke the color barrier for the Cardinals in 1954, spent time in Rochester. Alston, a native of Greensboro, N.C., who graduated from North Carolina A&T, an HBCU in that city.

Alston was very gifted and often showed flashes of excellence in his career, but as a young adult he began suffering from a neurological disorder that afflicted him with chronic fatigue, a debilitating malady that was accompanied by mental illness – likely schizophrenia – that led to him hearing voices and having other serious symptoms.

Between combating those health challenges and the intense pressure he felt integrating a franchise that had a history of racism – not to mention that in many ways, St. Louis was a Southern, Jim Crow city – Alston collapsed under the weight and didn’t last long in professional baseball. He died in poverty in Greensboro in 1993.

Greason said he could tell that despite Alston’s potential, the latter was struggling.

“We got along really well together,” Greason said of Alston. “I knew what was going on [with Alston]. I think he was kind of shell shocked, with so much pressure on him to do well, and he couldn’t do it.” 

Another outsized personality Greason crossed paths in Rochester was Luke Easter, the super slugger who bashed homers for the Homestead Grays and then the Cleveland Indians before becoming a minor-league legend and folk hero with the Buffalo Bisons and, from 1959-64, the Rochester Red Wings.

As I noted in this post, Easter is beloved in Rochester and widely considered the greatest Wing of all time. He was inducted to the IL Hall of Fame in 2008. Greason and Luke were both on the 1959 Wings team. 

Funnily enough, however, Greason found himself facing off against Luscious Luke during the latter’s several years with the Bisons, including on Aug. 31, 1958, at Buffalo’s Offerman Stadium, an encounter that turned rather dramatic.

Greason got the starting nod for the Wings, but it was a rough outing for the hurler – the Bison’s nicked him for eight hits and four runs, all earned, through six and two-thirds innings. Greason yanked in the seventh – well, booted is a more appropriate word for it – when Easter came to the plate right after Buffalo’s George Risley thumped a home run off Greason.

On the second pitch, a medium speed heater by Greason got away from the Wing pitcher and zipped high and very inside, forcing Luke to duck under the errant throw. Umpire Bob Smith interpreted the pitch as an allegedly angry knockdown pitch in retaliation for Risley’s round-tripper and tossed Greason from the game. The ejection apparently surprised those in attendance, including Wings manager Cot Deal and Easter himself, and it resulted in Greason getting dinged for the loss.

In addition, Greason helped mentor the great Bob Gibson in 1958, one season before Gibson made his Major League debut with the Cards. Gibson, of course, became one of the greatest and most dominating pitchers of all time, a career that earned him admission to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

D&C, March 25, 1959

In a March 31, 1959, column from Daytona Beach, the D&C’s George Beahon pointed out Greason’s mentorship of Gibson (as well as other Black pitchers working their way through the Cards’ system). Beahon called Greason “the veteran Red Wing pitcher who always has served as a sort of counselor and housing and travel aide to the younger Negro players on the club.” The column singled out Gibson and Dick Ricketts who successfully made it to the parent club with Greason’s assistance.

A lengthy 2014 profile of Greason in the St. Louis Dispatch, reporter Derrick Goold wrote that Gibson had recently confirmed that Greason “took him under his wing.” (Rochester-centric pun likely not intended.) Crazy side note about Greason and Gibson: Before a win over Montreal in September 1959 at the Royals’ stadium, the teams held a pre-game “field day” that included, somewhat oddly, an egg-throwing contest, plus a home-run contest won by (who else?) Luke Easter, who clubbed two dingers over the outfield scoreboard. But there was also a pitchers’ foot race around the bases, in which the Royals’ Paul Lapalme beat Gibson and Greason, as well as Bill Harris.

Other Wings teammates, including white ones, credited Greason for serving as a mentor to them as well. “Fellows like Bill Greason, who have played with me, say the International League is the place to really go places,” infielder Alex Cosmidis told the D&C in March 1958. “He also told me Rochester is a good basebball [sic] town.”

Greason’s last year in organized baseball was with Rochester in 1959, when the Cardinals’ management – including former Wings manager and, briefly, Cardinals manager Johnny Keane – hassled Greason in contract talks, spurring Greason to walk away from the Wings, and soon after pro baseball altogether.

“I didn’t go back [for the 1960 season],” Greason said. “They wouldn’t sign or release me,” so he retired.

Thus ended Bill Greason’s tenure in my hometown. In the grand scheme of the universe and in Rev. Greason amazing, long life, his time in Rochester was a footnote – as great as Rochester is, I’m guessing it can’t compare to serving under fire at Iwo Jima, becoming a major league pitcher, taking part in the Civil Rights Movement, and serving his faith and Birmingham for half a century. But I’m glad he has fond memories of Rochester, and I can pretty much guarantee that baseball fans in my hometown, both back in the 1950s and now, were grateful for the work he put in with the Wings.

Bill Greason

But what about how Greason, and his other Black players, were received in the city? Greason told me that he was enthusiastically accepted by the Rochester community.

At least on the surface, the Rochester community seemed to back up Greason’s fond memories of local baseball fans and residents and the way they welcomed him – he, along with new teammates Bob Boyd, a first baseman, and Charles Peete, an outfielder, were recognized by community page columnist Clara Leonard. She wrote:

“BROTHERHOOD WEEK NOTE – Maybe it isn’t news to baseball fans, but it’s nice to know. Our city isn’t lagging behind other communities in the elimination of racial barriers in sports.

“Three Negro ballplayers have been signed for the 1955 season Red Wing team … Last year, Tom Alston, first baseman, was the first man of his race to wear a Red Wings uniform. The three new Negroes who will be on the ball club’s roster come spring training time are [Boyd, Peete and Greason].”

Such a positive reception for the Wings’ Black players in Rochester might not be that surprising, given the city’s reputations for a certain amount of Civil Rights efforts. Before the Civil War and Emancipation, Rochester and its vicinity ran numerous Underground Railroad stations that helped shepherd escaped slaves to freedom.

In addition, Frederick Douglass called Rochester home for much of his life, including the founding and publishing of his bold, abolitionist newspaper, The North Star. Douglass settled in Rochester in 1847 and was buried there in Mount Hope Cemetery after his death in 1895.

However, Rochester’s record on race relations, like many Americans, isn’t exactly unblemished. In July 1964 – just five years after Greason’s last season with the Red Wings – simmering racial tensions boiled over into a race riot that lasted three days, destroyed more than 200 stores, and left four dead, several hundred injured and nearly 1,000 arrested. The uprising – triggered by de facto segregation, police oppression and significantly higher unemployment and economic strife in the Black community – required the arrival of the National Guard to quell the violence.

D&C, April 2, 1958

But although the Wings’ African-American players in the 1950s were generally accepted in the city, it appears that at times, they weren’t so warmly welcomed elsewhere, including Jacksonville Beach, Fla., where it seems that some locals gave them some trouble while the Wings were in town for an exhibition game against the Columbus Jets, another International League team. Reported the April 16, 1959, D&C:

“Worst memories of the spring training: The Indignities [cap in original] suffered by Red Wings Billy Harrell, Bill Greason and Marshall Bridges, during the exhibition game stopover at Jacksonville last weekend, General Manager George Sisler Jr., who was not with the traveling contingent, says it will never happen again.”

Unfortunately I was unable to find any more information about the Jacksonville incident after some cursory research, and I was unaware of the event when I interviewed Greason at the Malloy conference. But like most of Florida in the middle of the 20th century, segregation was enforced in Jacksonville, and the tight grip of Jim Crow had yet to be sufficiently loosened. However, the city also was a center of the Civil Rights Movement in Florida, making the history of race relations in Jacksonville complex and multi-dimensional.

D&B, July 1, 1957

It’s all been a thrilling, rewarding life for Greason, and the reverend continues to make a positive impact on the world in general. Here’s what researchers Bryan Steverson and Layton Revel wrote in their biographical essay on Greason for the Center for Negro Leagues Baseball Research:

“From this researcher’s perspective William Greason ended on an extremely positive note because he spent the final three years of his career pitching at the Triple A level. Very few players can say they ended their career in such a positive manner.”

One phenomenon of baseball history that continues to amaze me is how so many different threads of that history coincide, intersect and deepen as they weave the complex historical and socioeconomic tapestry of the American pastime, and Bill Greason most assuredly provides another striking example.

In the three-plus seasons he hurled for my hometown heroes, Greason was witness to a whole slew of developments and occurrences that fundamentally shaped the history of one team and the lives and aspirations of numerous African-American players who were part of the courageous, talented wave of post-Jackie baseball integrators.

The greatest single event in franchise history and one of the most revolutionary economic and financial in minor-league baseball – the creation of Rochester Community Baseball and its community-based ownership of the team occurred during Greason’s tenure there, meaning he got to be on the roster of the first RCB edition of the Wings.

(The formation of RCB came about after the 1956 season – one in which the Wings won the IL championship – when the Cardinals ceased to operate and put the franchise and its stadium up for sale, threatening the franchise’s very existence. A Rochester businessman, Morrie Silver, spearheaded the drive to sell shares of the Wings to members of the public in order to save the franchise and keep it thriving.)

Unfortunately, during Greason’s three (more or less) full seasons in Rochester, the Wings finished sub-.500 and in fifth place in the league, while in 1958 they ended up 77-75, placed third and lost in the playoff semis. However, despite the Wings’ struggles during several of his seasons there, Greason remained eternally optimistic and eager about his tenure in Rochester. At the beginning of the 1958 season, for example, Greason was spotlighted by the Democrat and Chronicle in a daily feature called “Red Wing Scrap Book,” that included sketches of individual players, stats and comments from the player. In the April 2, 1958, graphic, Greason said:

“I had a good year in winter ball. There’s no reason, as I see it, why I shouldn’t continue. More than anything else, I’d like to get a starter’s job. That’s up to manager Cot Deal. Maybe he wants to use me in the bullpen again. That’s all right with me, too.

“I look forward to winning 15 games for Rochester.”

Stated a similar feature in April 1959:

“’We’ll be battling around the top of the league,’” says Bill Greason, the fastball pitcher who returns to the Red Wings line-up this year.

“’I think we’ve got a better ballclub than last season’s. We’ve got speed, which we lacked last year. And we haven’t had any serious injuries that bothered us last spring, giving us better conditioning.

“’If we escape injuries, and our pitching holds up, I think we’ll be battling for the top of the league.’”

D&C, July 14, 1956

Now, for some fascinating historical quirkiness, while Cot Deal was the team skipper from 1957-59 for all, during the ’56 campaign – Greason’s first – the Wings were managed to the league championship by, believe it or not, Dixie Walker.

If that name rings a bell for some readers, it wouldn’t be a shock – Walker became infamous in 1947, when, as a player, he reportedly attempted to lead an ultimately unsuccessful Brooklyn Dodgers player revolt against the arrival in the Majors of Jackie Robinson.

Walker’s efforts have ever since tarnished his baseball legacy and continues to overshadow any personal accomplishments as a player, coach and manager, including the IL Governor’s Cup he won with the Wings in 1956.

The skipper who succeeded Walker – and therefore managed Greason and the Wings – was Cot Deal, who played in the Majors for a few years in the 1940s before embarking on a much respected, 30-year coaching and managing career at various levels and teams.

During the 1957 season – the first for the now-community-owned Wings under the Rochester Community Baseball banner – the Wings threw a Cot Deal Day at the stadium; he spent more than a decade in the Cardinals organization in total.

D&C, Aug. 22, 1956

There’s also another crucial fiber in the Bill Greason tapestry – his exact trajectory for his years after his second stint in the Marines during the Korean War and his debut for the Cardinals in late-season 1954. More precisely, it’s what he accomplished during that stretch, because it’s pretty amazing.

After Greason left the service, he was scooped up by the Oklahoma City Indians of the Double-A Texas League. When he debuted with the Indians – and in Organized Baseball – in summer 1952, he became the first African American to play for a professional baseball team in the state of Oklahoma.

By all accounts, Greason was warmly welcomed by the Oklahoma fans and residents in general, especially among the Black population, which regarded him as a hero.

But in addition, when Greason squared off against Dave Hoskins, a hurler for the Dallas Eagles and former Homestead Gray who integrated the whole Texas League earlier in the season, on Aug. 3, 1952, they became the first all-Black pitching duel in Texas League history.

In a 2020 article for forbes.com, writer Nick Duinte penned that, quite simply, “Greason became a legend in Oklahoma City, while a 2007 piece in The Oklahoman newspaper, reporter Berry Tramel called Greason “a pitching and box-office sensation in OKC in 1952-53.”

In the same article in The Oklahoman, Russell Perry, a local baseball fan and longtime publisher of the Black Chronicle, the OKC African-American newspaper, said that having the barrier-shattering Greason in town “was like Jackie Robinson was here.” Perry further described Greason’s reception in the local Black community as “jubilation. He was an icon of the black community. Everybody was very, very proud of him.”

After two years in OKC, Greason’s contract was purchased by the Cardinals organization, and he began the ’54 campaign with the Cards’ other Triple-A team, the Columbus Red Birds of the American Association. The Red Birds’ manager that season? Johnny Keane.

From Columbus, Greason got his shot in The Show in St. Louis, then spent a season and a half with the Cardinals’ AA team, the Houston Buffalos, another Texas League franchise, before getting promoted to Rochester in mid-1956. All told, Greason spent six seasons in the Cardinals organization.

Here’s a final, “small world” tidbit: on June 29, 1958, Greason took the mound in relief during a Red Wings’ Family Night clash with the Miami Marlins (which was a Triple-A franchise in the IL at the time and the Phillies top farm club) and ended up the hard-luck loser – which was a recurring theme for him – at the end of a 10-inning, 6-5 Miami win. 

“It was a heartbreaker, for the home side had rallied for three tying runs in the ninth, and because an even 5,000 Family Night fans watched reliefer Bill Greason suffer the loss despite a brilliant pitching job,” the D&C stated.

Yeah, for some reason the D&C used the term reliefer, not reliever. Them’s were the times, I guess.

Anyway, to make matters worse, it was Greason himself who drove in the three runs that tied the game in the bottom of the ninth! So what happens? A bobbled bunt and errant throw leads to Miami scoring the unearned, winning run in the 10th without getting a hit. Greason pitched the last five innings and gave up just one hit yet still got tagged with the loss. He whiffed six and walked four, including one in the decisive 10th inning in dropping to 4-5 on the year.

But here’s the punch line: the Marlin pitcher who came closed the game out with one and one-third flawless innings?

Some guy named Satchel Paige.

That’s right, the ol’ man himself. Just one week before his 52nd – 52nd! – birthday, Paige beat Greason and the Wings when Satch was an erstwhile journeyman at the tail end of his pro career.

D&C, July 1, 1958

It all paints a complex, vibrant mural of a life lived in pro baseball. In his 2014 Post-Dispatch article, Goold stated as much about Greason: “[H]is contribution, though mostly lost to time around the club and never before honored by the team, would not be limited to his time in the majors. His legacy isn’t bound behind the buttons of a baseball jersey.”

Many thanks to Bill Greason and everyone who made my interview with him possible. I’ll wrap up with another quote from Frederick Bush’s SABR bio of Greason that sums up both my primary point about Greason’s long, full and very influential life as a Marine, as a baseball player, as a Civil Rights advocate and a minister.

Wrote Bush: “Greason’s baseball career also intertwined with other experiences to create a compelling portrait of what life was like for an African-American man during segregation, as well as in its aftermath, in 20th-century America.”

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