Pitch from the Past
DeHart attends conference on the NLB
By Chrystal Houston
“Studying Negro League Baseball is kind of like studying American history—it’s a part of our history that is gone. There’s no real link to it anymore. Once integration came along, it was over,” said YC Education instructor, Bobby DeHart. DeHart attended the Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference last summer in Kansas City, MO.
DeHart attended the conference as an educator--who is eager to share stories of this bygone culture in the classroom--and also as an avid baseball fan. In fact, the national pastime is a family affair for DeHart; his brother, Rick DeHart, is a professional baseball player.
This year’s conference was special as it commemorated the 100th birthday of the Negro Baseball League’s most celebrated pitcher: Satchel Paige. The event was hosted in Paige’s hometown, and featured a tour of his house and a speaker panel comprised of his children. The Paige family is notoriously tight-lipped about their famous father, so it was a rarity to hear them speak out about him. “They told a lot of stories that had never been told publicly before,” said DeHart.
Buck O’Neil, the most vocal ambassador of Negro League Baseball, was also at the conference. O’Neil passed away a few weeks ago on Oct. 6, but he leaves behind him an impressive legacy in the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in KC. DeHart and other conference participants toured the museum which chronicles “black baseball” from it’s inception in 1920 to the disbanding of the leagues due to integration in 1960.
“Baseball was really one of the leaders in integrating America,” said DeHart.
At the conference DeHart learned a lot of information about the glory days of Negro League Baseball--and about how to present it in the classroom. “Sometimes we look at history and to our students these things seem like a very long time ago,” said DeHart. To narrow the gap between past and present, DeHart returned to York with an arsenal of stories to share with his students, and a rekindled passion about the topic.