Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Moment of Silence Please

Two ballplayers with Detroit ties have recently passed.  Dave Roberts died of lung cancer at age 64.  Exposure to asbestos is the apparent cause of his cancer--he worked during off-seasons as a boiler-maker.  Let that be a lesson to you kids to stay away from asbestos, unless you've got the required hazmat suit on.  Can you imagine a major leaguer now working a second job, or on an unrelated note, shoveling snow four times in 24 hours as we did here in Michigan?   Insert uproarious, sarcasm-laden laughter here.  Mike over at The Daily Fungo has already done a nice piece on Roberts, so click over there.

"Prince" Joe  Henry passed on January 2 at the age of 78.  Joe Henry was a third baseman who played in the waning years of the Negro Leagues for both the Detroit Clowns and the Detroit Stars, among other teams, and then had a bit of a minor league career, but his progress to the majors was hampered by injuries.  The site Pitch Black Baseball has a nice bio of Joe Henry--check it out.

After his baseball career, Henry has quite a number of laudable achievements.  He became the first African American chief steward of the UAW.  He had a column in St. Louis' Riverfront Times called "Ask a Negro Leaguer."  He also wrote a stirring letter regarding pensions, because he was ineligible, even though he was barely scraping by.  If you're interested in his activist side, refer to the cool site Negro Leagues Baseball Player Association.  It's even got a copy of the letter he wrote to the MLB assistance team regarding Negro League pensions, along with some nice articles.

Henry was a showman on the field, hence the nickname "Prince," wearing non-standard clothing during games, and performing various antics, most notably when throwing from third to first, he would begin sprinting toward first before stopping at the last minute to make the throw in time.

Finally, click here for the Free Press' version of AP writer Betsy Taylor's piece on Henry's passing.

Rest well gentlemen.

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