Today, my family and I went to see the New Jersey Jackals play baseball at the Yogi Berra stadium in our town. It was our first visit to the stadium and probably my third baseball game ever. We only went because my younger daughter was awarded the tickets for participating in the 100 book challenge at her school. My older daughter and I spent most of our time reading the newspaper while my younger daughter rolled down a hill adjacent to the field with her friends. Nothing against the Jackals, but America’s favorite pass time is really not our thing. But my grandfather, Martin Ford lived and breathed baseball. He would sit for hours listening to a ballgame on the radio and would talk to my cousin endlessly about his favorite players. When I was a kid, he told me that he played baseball as well with the Negro Leagues. His position was catcher. My dad never had a chance to see him play since he put his catcher’s mitt away once he married and started a family in the early 1930s. But my dad remembers Grandpa saying that he played in Mobile, Alabama and Pascagoula, Mississippi.
As I watched the Jackals catch pop flies and round the bases for five innings, I thought of Grandpa. Finding a picture of Grandpa playing baseball with the Negro Leagues is too much to ever hope for, but I’d love to learn the names of teams in that area during the time. So far, I’ve checked Negro League Baseball.com website which has plenty of facts about the Negro League but doesn’t mention any teams from Mississippi or in Mobile, Alabama. Any baseball fans out there know where else I might look to learn of Negro League teams in those areas?