As the story goes, he presented to eight men his plan to create the first professional baseball league for black players. The encounter is considered the launching pad for the
Two blocks from where that meeting was once held, the
"The Negro Leaguers built the bridge," Kendrick said. "This event celebrates those who crossed over the bridge -- those who were the benefactors of the passion (and) the perseverance that was displayed in the face of adversity so they could pursue their dreams of playing in the major leagues."
The Hall of Game, held three days before
"It was getting increasingly difficult to get the young athletes to be a part of the celebration," Kendrick said. "No matter how special an event we put on, if you don't have the people that you're honoring there, it rang a little bit hollow. We felt the event had run its course."
Brock, Morgan and Winfield have committed to attend the inaugural Hall of Game, Kendrick said. Clemente died in 1972. All four players are in the
Members of the Hall of Game will be former players from 1959 or later -- meaning members of the Negro Leagues will not be eligible. Players from all ethnic backgrounds will be selected in future classes.
"The criteria for getting into the Hall of Game is that you played the game the way they played it in the Negro Leagues -- you played with great passion, you played with great determination, you obviously played with great skill and you played it with a little swag," Kendrick said. "The late
Each member of the first class was selected based on a unique connection to the Negro Leagues, Kendrick said.
O'Neil, a former Negro American League player and manager who spent the majority of his career with the Kansas City Monarchs, is credited with signing Brock to his first professional contract. Brock spent 16 seasons with the
Morgan, a former Cincinnati Reds second baseman, said he wrote his college thesis on the Negro Leagues.
Winfield, who played most of his career with the
Clemente played alongside former Negro Leaguers in
"We knew it was time to go in a different direction with our baseball event and have a group of individuals who I think resonate with baseball fans worldwide," Kendrick said. "It's an expansive list, but I wanted to make sure this first class had a unique connection to the Negro Leagues."
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