by Debbie Norrell
Courier Staff Writer
On July 18 at the Senator John Heinz Regional History Center, more than 200 celebrated the Negro Leagues with the Josh Gibson Foundation and the Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference in the city of champions and capital of Black baseball. According to Larry Lester, event emcee and Negro Leagues Committee co-chair, the evening was a tribute to those who had the will and spit, muscle and hustle, baseball players who were mistreated, cheated, but never defeated in the game of peanuts and Cracker Jacks.
Sean L. Gibson II, Josh Gibson Foundation president and grandson of Josh Gibson says as they recognize the many accomplishments of Josh Gibson and the role he played in the Negro Leagues they felt compelled to recognize present day heroes who have accomplished and played an integral role in their respective fields. The 2009 Gibson honorees included: The Hon. Tonya Payne (government), Marcia Sturtevant (civil service, executive director, Allegheny County Human Services Children Youth and Families), Mary Ellen Sullivan (business, vice president and community consultant of community development for PNC Bank), Charlie Batch (sports, Best of the Batch Foundation), Derrick Hardy (education, principal of Milliones School) and Ray Sprow (community service, Sports Turf Specialties).
The Josh Gibson Foundation also awards deserving students with scholarships. The class of 2009 scholarship awardees were Brittany Deneen Word Edwards and Chayla Noele Fowler. Each student received $1,000. Lou Brock, National Baseball Hall of Fame member was the keynote speaker.
Brock spoke directly to the young people in the audience and told them to find their sweet spot in life. Brock is the only player in the history of Major League Baseball to have an award established in his name while still an active player. The Josh Gibson Foundation is a private non-profit corporation, which was established in 1994 to continue the legacy of Josh Gibson through education and sports.
This year, their focus and energy was on the Josh Gibson Field renovation project. Gibson is proud to say that in May, the $300,000 project was unveiled. The field will enable the Foundation to serve more than 300 inner city kids, ages 5-14 through the Josh Gibson Baseball Academy.
On Aug. 29 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., the Foundation will hold their Annual Charity Softball Tournament at the Josh Gibson Field located at 2217 Bedford Ave.