Negro League Baseball players think back to time on the field - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Negro League Baseball players think back to time on the field

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Before Jackie Robinson the only place African Americans could play baseball was in the Negro Leagues. 

Friday night two of the leagues greatest players shared their experiences about life on and off the field with a crowd at Georgia Regents University.

Now Carl Long signs baseball caps and shakes hands, but his hands used to swing a bat and throw a baseball.

He played for the Birmingham Black Barons from 1952 to 1953 and his friend, Clifford Layton still remembers when he started spring training for the Indianapolis Clowns.

"We went to Jacksonville, Florida March 25, 1951. You couldn't have bought me for a million dollars because it was so exciting that I was going to play baseball in the Negro League," Layton, said.  

He played for the league and its grueling schedule for four years.

"We didn't have any off time. We played every day, every day. We traveled sometimes, you might say 700 miles in a bus, get in to town that morning and be on the field and playing that afternoon."

Along with the challenging schedule; they also faced the challenge of an unfriendly culture.

Long remembered one time when he was at bat a man shouted racial slurs at him. Long says his response was to hit the ball out of the park.

But the players also have many fond memories. One of Layton's favorite memories is playing side by side with Hank Aaron. 

"The excitement was just being able to play with him that he went on to become going on to be the greatest home run hitter of all time, until Barry Bonds," said Layton.

Even though their time on the field is over their legacy lives on. Layton still boasts only one person has ever hit a home run on him.

If you'd like to learn more about the league, there's an exhibit at the GRU Summerville campus library for the next week and Long has a book coming out soon that will be called Game of Faith.

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