Barons to honor Negro Leagues players during home opener - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Barons to honor Negro Leagues players during home opener

L-R: Reporter Christy Hutchings talks with James Jake Sanders at Regions Field. Source: WBRC video L-R: Reporter Christy Hutchings talks with James Jake Sanders at Regions Field. Source: WBRC video
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Wednesdsay night, the Birmingham Barons will play ball at their new home Regions Field. But they'll also honor the past and a special group of players.

In the 1920's there were two separate Barons teams: an all-white team called the Barons and the Black Barons, who were part of the Negro Leagues.

It's been 52 years since James Jake Sanders last played in the minor league. A Fairfield native, he's watched closely as this stadium has gone up and Tuesday he got his first look inside.

"Never thought this would happen - no idea - no way I thought," he said.

And within five minutes of sitting in the new stadium, the past came back to life.

"Made me think of Yankee stadium when I played there, Brigg stadium in Kansas City. All these stadiums we played in when we were playing so yeah it brings back memories," Sanders said.

The stadium he played in didn't have all the bells and whistles like Regions Field but the game was still the same.

"It was a good league, a strong league. I was just thrilled when we were able to play against the white kids. For me just to beat them because they wouldn't let you play and then when we could play I would enjoy it. I really would enjoy it," he said.

Now Sanders is going to be one of the Negro Leagues players honored at Wednesay's home opener. He will also have a place in the new museum. He says people need to know the history of the league because there are not many of them left.

"Today I think we might have 130 of us still living. I think if I'm not mistaken, we have approximately 18 right here in Birmingham that actually played," he said.

Sanders says me he is excited about Wednesday because he will have a chance to catch up with old friends.

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