Negro League Baseball part of Tennessee’s forgotten history

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Dr. Harriet Kimbro Hamilton says even fewer people today know the history of Negro League Baseball.

“They played like invisible men, because half of the population in this country didn’t know that this was going on,” said Dr. Hamilton.

Dr. Hamilton said she’s been invited to several places to talk about the Negro Leagues.

Her knowledge comes from an impressive collection of Negro League memorabilia and a priceless scrapbook.

“It was old, so old, over 60 years old now, 70 years old,” Hamilton said of the scrapbook.

Courtesy: Dr. Harriet Kimbro Hamilton)

It belonged to Henry Kimbro, Harriet’s father. He played baseball for the Baltimore Elite (E-Light) Giants, a team formerly named the Nashville Elite (E-Light) Giants.

“It had all the articles, the stats, what the team did, articles about him as a player in Baltimore,” she said.

The scrapbook was given to Harriet with her mother’s blessing and a request.

“‘You do something with this scrapbook.’In the back of my mind, I knew i had to tell the story,” said Harriet.

(Photo: WKRN)

She said like her father, the voices of so many Negro League players and owners have gone silent and their contributions to America’s favorite past time forgotten.

A historical marker on 2nd Ave. stands near the site where many local players enjoyed the game, Tom Wilson Park.

The city’s first black owned ballpark opened as home field of the Nashville E-Light Giants in 1929.

Today, commercial development covers what used to be a place of hope and promise in the lives of segregated black Americans.

“He was born in 1912. He saw a lot of negative things toward African Americans. But you could go to a baseball field and a bunch of guys could get together, and play baseball and

the world that you had seen would fade away for a while,” said Harriet. “It made life enjoyable.”

Harriet chronicled her dad’s life and career in a memoir called “Daddy’s Scrapbook”

It’s a welcomed addition to Negro League history, told through the eyes of family and Nashville Negro League players who helped her father succeed.

Click here to read more stories from Anne Holt’s Tennessee.