Negro League baseball exhibit on display for Black Expo

Oscar Charleston essential to exhibit, history

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana Black Expo took an opportunity to honor the many Negro League baseball players who never had a chance at Major League Baseball because of the color barrier.

A small exhibit at Black Expo was on display to recognize those players by telling the story of Negro League baseball.

Oscar Charleston was one person essential to telling that story. 

He was a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and he was from Indianapolis. 

Dr. Geri Strecker wrote an article about him that appeared in the Indiana Historical Society Magazine. She was writing a book about him too.

"Oscar Charleston was just an amazing player and an amazing man. I think it is important to bring his legacy out into the public so kids can hear that there was a hero who grew up right off 16th Street and went on to go to the Hall of Fame," Strecker said.

Charleston played on and managed 14 different teams over a 42-year period. 

Charleston managed the Indianapolis Clowns team to the Negro League pennant in 1954. 

He died from a stroke later that year.

People who visited the exhibit were in awe of his accomplishments.

"I just see the bravery and the will to just go out and play. That's all they wanted to do was play," Terone Johnson said.

"They still kept a good attitude and kept going even though they were pushed down so much. It showed their character and they really loved the game," Alexis McClure said.

The exhibit and the Negro League Hall of Fame in Kansas City were both built to make sure that men like Charleston were never forgotten

Baseball historian Bill James ranked Charleston as the fourth best player of all time, just behind Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner and Willie Mays.

The exhibit will be on display until Sunday.

Follow Derrik Thomas on Twitter: @derrikthomas

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