A Historic Face Lift For Black College Baseball

Tuskegee University Returns Home Games to Campus

Many of the happiest days of my life are moments spent on a baseball diamond. Mostly sandlots: sometimes cow pastures turned into a ball field for Sunday baseball outings, some with meticulously kept lawns, and some in the oldest minor league ballpark in America, Luther Williams Field, in Macon, Georgia. read more

Tuskegee-Morehouse Split Historic Season Opener

MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA ( Cascade Publishing House) It was a cold and blustery day. Intermittent rain fell from the sky, some of the droplets appeared like snowflakes as they swirled and floated to the turf in the ballpark once home for the Montgomery Rebels in the old Southern League. The combatants lined up along their respective baselines, the national anthem played over the public address system, and the umpires went over the ground rules. There would be no banging on trash cans, and signs, if stolen, had to employ the old fashion technique perfected during twentieth-century baseball. read more

Martin Left Big Baseball Legacy at Tuskegee

James Martin, 1944-2009, was head baseball coach at Tuskegee Institute, now known as Tuskegee University from 1971-1982 and from 1984-1988.

Martin was honored as the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Baseball Coach of the Year ten times during his fifteen year baseball coaching career. Between 1976 and 1980, Coach Martin had a .750 winning percentage, winning over 200 games in his first ten years as the head baseball coach. During this decade, Martin doubled as the Assistant Head Coach of the Tuskegee football team. He would later become Head Coach of the football program and Director of Athletics at Tuskegee. Additionally, Martin served as Director of Athletics at South Carolina State University, Long Island University and his Alma Mater, Alabama A & M University.

Coach Martin, known as “Big Jim” to his friends, was the consummate recruiter; he often credited his success to “good recruiting and administrative support for the team.”

While at Tuskegee, Martin took eight of his fifteen teams to NCAA Division II Regional Tournaments. He organized an SIAC All-Star game in 1973. His team was the conference champions that year, so they competed against the conference All-Stars in Atlanta, Georgia, winning the game 2-1.

He was selected as Team Leader for the Division II, NCAA All-American Baseball Team in Mexico City in 1978.

In 1979, Coach Martin created the National Baseball Tournament in order to showcase black college baseball players to Major League Baseball. The three day tournament was hosted on the campus of Tuskegee Institute and at Veterans Field on the grounds of the Tuskegee, Alabama Veterans Hospital, in 1979 and 1980. The tournament invited the top black college programs in the nation and drew participation from many of the professional baseball teams.

During his tenure as coach, Martin sent nine players to major league baseball. Among them were Richard “Buck” Shaw, Roy Lee Jackson, Howard Carter, Ken Howell and Alan Mills.

Also, he coached former New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, former Grambling State University President, Willie D. Larkins, as well, this writer.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round, Easier to obtain Than to Maintain: The Globalization of Civil Rights by Charles Steele, Jr.; and the host of Beyond the Law with Harold Michael Harvey. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.

Tuskegee Baseball Team off to fast start

The Tuskegee University Golden Tigers baseball team is off to a fast start, They started the 2017 season by sweeping Selma University, a perennial independent powerhouse, 11-4 and 15-5 in a double-hitter on February 3. Tuskegee pounded out 11 hits and was led by a two home run performance from Ricky Green, who drove in 4 runs.

Unlike previous years, the Golden Tigers Baseball team is off to a fast start. Tuskegee typically starts slow before making a run for the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (S.I.A.C.) Championship.

In the first game of the season, Tuskegee had four players to get at least two hits. In addition to Green, they were, Jalen Luter who went 2-3 with a double and 3 RBIs, Matthew Reed 2-4 with a double and 1 RBI, and Gemini Jackson who went 2-3 and scored 1 run. Green was joined in the home run derby by Joseph Mauldin.  Trey Nelson went the distance for Tuskegee picking up his first win of the season. He held the Selma Bulldogs to 4 runs on 10 hits. The fleet footed Golden Tigers swiped 3 bases.

In the second game, Tuskegee put 9 runs on the board in the first inning and never looked back. They exploded for 10 hits and were again led by Ricky Green, who hit his third home run of the young season. Green went 2-2 and drove in 2 runs. Ryan Green, no relations to Ricky, chipped in 3 hits in 3 at bats. The Westlake High grad from College Park, Georgia, drove in 2 runs and scored 2 runs. Eugene Mabota pitched five strong innings and picked up his first win.

The following day, the Golden Tigers split a pair with Clark-Atlanta University dropping the first game 6-5 as Clark-Atlanta scored an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh inning to win the game. Travias Hylton homered to left field in the game. Jalen Luter went 2-4 and drove in 2 runs.

In the second game, Tuskegee shut out Clark-Atlanta 10-0 behind a one-hitter tossed by Joseph Mauldin, who struck out 17 of the 22 batters he faced in the seven inning ball game. The senior flame thrower from Lancaster, California matched his personal best single game strike out mark, which he set against Lane College last season. Ricky Green, a power-hitter from Tampa, Florida continued on his torrid hitting pace going 3-4 and driving in 3 runs. Lane Williams went yard for his first homer of the season.

First year Head Coach Reginald Hollins said of his team’s quick start, “I feel that the guys have gotten off to a great start offensively and on the bump.”

Defensively the Golden Tigers have committed 10 errors in the first four games. Hollins said, “We have some things to clean up defensively, but we are a young team that competes and soaks up knowledge each and every inning.”

Hollins has to be pleased with his team’s work on the bases. His base runners have racked up 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts.

“I am glad to get my guys some experience and much needed at bats,” Hollins said assessing his team’s fast start.




Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round, Easier to obtain Than to Maintain: The Globalization of Civil Rights by Charles Steele, Jr.; and the host of Beyond the Law with Harold Michael Harvey. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.


Tuskegee Hosts First Baseball Alumni Classic

Tuskegee Institute, Alabama Tuskegee University under the leadership of first year Head Baseball Coach Reggie Hollins hosted its first Tuskegee University Alumni Baseball Classic, October 21, 2016, during the homecoming festivities at the historic university in East Alabama.

Hollins, a 2010 graduate of Tuskegee University, where he starred as a middle infielder for the Golden Tigers, took over the helm of the Tuskegee program this summer from Montressa Kirby, who had been doubling as the quarterback coach on the highly rated Tuskegee football team since 2009.

The move freed Kirby to concentrate on his role as quarterback coach. Hollins, a product of Benjamin E. Mays High School in Atlanta, Georgia, wasted little time in getting his program off to a roaring start.  He organized the first ever Alumni Baseball Classic and brought together former players from 1969 through 2015 to give his current players an opportunity to talk with the athletes who had made the Tuskegee Baseball Program one of the top programs in the nation in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

About 150 fans in town for Tuskegee’s 135th homecoming, turned out to watch the current team compete against the old-timers on James Washington Field. The baseball park on campus is named for the school’s first baseball coach and brother of the school’s first principle, the legendary educator, Booker T. Washington. Washington field was laid out in 1894 by its namesake and William Clarence Matthews, the university’s first shortstop and a 2013 inductee into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Tuskegee team currently plays its home games in a former minor league ball park in Montgomery, Alabama. President Brian L. Johnson dropped by the game and pledged his support for bringing baseball back to campus by making improvements to the field and building a state of the art baseball facility.

“I can get it done with $700,000; we could do a little more if we had a million dollars. We are going to bring baseball back to Washington Field,” Johnson said.

In recent years, the Tuskegee baseball program has not exhibited the caliber of play of previous generations. Coach Hollins said he wanted to bring current players into contact with baseball alumni who had set a high standard for Tuskegee baseball.

“Look around you,” Coach Hollins told his current team and alumni players following the game. “I planned this game so the current players could get to see the alumni and so that the alumni could get to see the current Golden Tigers. These are some good young men, doing the right things, now that you have seen them, I hope you will get involved and support what we are doing in Tuskegee baseball,” Hollins said.

Indeed, it was an excellent opportunity for the current players to talk with alumni about things other than baseball. One current player, Ryan Green, a junior from Westlake High School, in the metro Atlanta area, wanted to know how he could parlay his Engineering Degree from Tuskegee into a career as a lawyer.

Green, the team’s right fielder posed the question to a 1971-73 Tuskegee right fielder, a retired lawyer. It was suggested to him that he could practice construction law. You could see a light bulb go off inside his head. The two men agreed to keep in contact as Green pursues his career goals.

The game was won by the current Golden Tigers 9-4. Coach Hollins said he is pleased with the progress of his team thus far in fall practice. He said that his catcher Ron McGee played particularly well in the Alumni Classic. McGee threw out three base runners.

The old-timers Most Valuable Player was the designated hitter. He went 2 for 2, with one stolen base, two runs scored and one RBI. The designated hitter just happens to be the person whose words you are reading.  Joe Colvin from the 1972 team drove in one run and Stephen Duval from the 1973 SIAC Championship team scored on a bases loaded walk.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0siTZMkBTx7RjhmMTgtX2FiblU/view. Click the link to view Harvey’s bases loaded blast to left center.

In addition to being the conference champions, the ’73 team beat the SIAC All-Stars 2-1 in old Herndon Stadium in Atlanta. This was the only All-Star game in SIAC history. They went on to compete in the NCAA Mid-East Regional Tournament.

The oldest alumni playing in the Tuskegee Baseball Classic were 66 year old Joe Colvin, 66 year old Stephen Duval, 65 year old Harold Michael Harvey, 65 year old Richard “Buck” Shaw, the university’s first Major League Baseball draftee (St. Louis Cardinals) and 63 year old McArthur “Spook” Shivers.

Hollins said he plans to make the alumni classic an annual event.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round; and the host of Beyond the Law with Harold Michael Harvey. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.


The Day A Fan Thought I was Willie Mays

Willie Mays, I am not. I had almost forgotten the day a baseball fan thought I was Willie Mays. I like to think that I was a good baseball player when I was in my prime, but no way as proficient with the bat, the glove or as fleet on the basepath as the “Say Hey Kid.”

What prompted this reflection is the news that the Atlanta Braves, formerly my hometown team, and the Florida Marlins played a game, the day before the 240th birthday of the United States of America. The game was played before 12,500 soldiers and their families on a ball field constructed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina just for this one game.

The boxscore is not what is important or to be remembered from this game. The fact that Major League Baseball devoted the time and the resources to bring a regular season game, that will count in the standings, to the men and women who protect the homeland with little financial reward is how this game should be remembered when sports fans look at this event.

I applaud Major League Baseball, the front offices of the Braves and Marlins, the coaches and players for bringing a bit of joy into the lives of our soldiers and their families.

This leads me back to the day an obvious fan of the game thought I was Willie Mays. It happened during my second year as a collegiate baseball player. I was an outfielder for the Tuskegee Institute Golden Tigers. It was early March, 1972. The sun was out but a chill hung over the stadium. My school, Tuskegee Institute was playing Albion College. We often played predominately white universities who traveled south to play games in the early spring while their baseball diamonds thawed out from the late winters experienced in the north.

Coach James Martin penciled me in the lineup in center field to start the second game of a double-hitter. During the pregame warm-up I made a basket catch or two, to the chagrin of Coach Martin, and fired a strike from center to home plate. When I trotted off the field, I heard someone in the stands say, “Hey Willie Mays.” I had no idea the fan was talking to me.

We were playing this game, similar to the game played by the Braves and Marlins at Fort Bragg, for the benefit of military veterans who were undergoing treatment at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama.

Each year Coach Martin would schedule a game or two for the veterans. The hospital was built in 1923 within walking distance of the Tuskegee Institute campus, to service Black veterans who had been injured in World War I. The property was part of the 5,000 acres of land amassed by Lewis Adams and Booker T. Washington for the school at Tuskegee. Washington’s successor Robert Russo Moton, donated the land to the federal government so this hospital could be built. This was the first VA facility specifically built to care for Black servicemen who complained of not getting adequate care when they visited facilities that catered to white veterans.

Many of the servicemen at the Tuskegee VA had mental health challenges as a result of their participation in World War II. They came to the stadium in wheelchairs, some with walking canes, some assisted by a nurse. While others walked under their own power. They were excited to see a baseball game between Black and White players.

When it was nearing my time to bat, I took a 33 ounce Louisville Slugger out of the bat rack and sauntered to the on-deck circle. I took a knee, held the wooden bat in a vertical position in the palm of my right hand and leaned forward, just like I had seen Mickey Mantle do it in old Yankee Stadium.

“Hey Willie,” one veteran yelled, “hit a homerun for me!”

Now I finally get it, this fan thinks I am Willie Mays. Although, Mays would retire from the game after the World Series later that year with diminishing skills from the kid who broke into the league in 1952, I could not see how this Vet could mistake me for Mays.

“That ain’t Willie Mays,” another veteran yelled.

“You don’t know what you are talking about, that is Willie Mays,” the first Vet said.

“It can’t be,” the second Vet said, “he wearing number 39, that’s Roy Campanella.”

Then the PA announcer said, “Now in the on-deck circle is Harold Harvey from Macon, Georgia.”

“That ain’t no Harold Harvey,” the first Vet said, “that’s Willie Mays. Hit that ball out the park Willie Mays.”

“See I told you that wont no Willie Mays,” the second Vet said.

“Walking to the batter’s box is Harold Harvey,” the announcer said.

“Hit that ball out of the ball park, Willie,” the first Vet yelled!

I grounded out to third.

“That’s alright Willie, you’ll get him next time,” the first Vet shouted!

On my next at bat I drew a walk, but had a slower base runner on second base and did not get a chance to dazzle the veterans with my baserunning skills. The game was called after five innings so the teams could get to the campus cafeteria before it closed.

I did not hit that home run for the veteran who thought he was watching the great Willie Mays play baseball, but as the years pass, I look fondly on that day and the joy I brought to Black soldiers who served their country so that I could play baseball, the American pastime.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.