In February of 1994, Hieronimus & Co. arranged for a second White House visit by representatives of the Negro Leagues Baseball Players Association (NLBPA). After President Bush had honored them two years earlier, the new Administration was desirous of showing their support as well. This time it was an exclusive meeting for the Negro Leaguers with Vice President Al Gore, who congratulated them personably and took pictures in the Roosevelt Room. Dr. Bob and Zoh Hieronimus were especially pleased to arrange for this White House visit, because of its symbolic value of acknowledging this country's long overdue official recognition of these great American sporting role models. To read Vice President Gore's comments on the event, click on the link below. Scroll down to view photos of this visit.
Al Gore Recognizes Negro Leagues Players as Pioneers and Heroes (description of the event and text of his speech)
Photos of Vice President Gore and the Negro Leagues White House Visit in 1994:
BIG LEAGUERS: Vice President Al Gore, a longtime baseball fan, autographs baseballs and chats with Negro League Baseball Veterans in the Roosevelt Room of The White House. The Vice President entertained members of the league as part of Black History Month festivities. The players are (from, l-r) Max Manning, pitcher, Newark Eagles; Jim "Fireball" Cohen, pitcher, Indianapolis Clowns; Bill "Ready" Cash, catcher, Philadelphia Stars; Stanley Glenn, catcher, Philadelphia Stars; Mahlon Duckett, second baseman, Philadelphia Stars; Vice President Al Gore; Leon Day, pitcher, Newark Eagles; Gene Benson, outfielder, Philadelphia Stars; Russell Awkard, outfield Newark Eagles; Wilmer Fields, pitcher, Homestead Grays.
Inscribed photograph of Vice President Gore with Zoh Hieronimus
Inscribed photograph of Vice President Gore with Dr. Bob Hieronimus
Al Gore Recognizes Negro League "Pioneers and Heroes"
February 22, 1994--A "team" of 9 Negro Baseball League veterans were honored at The White House by Vice President Al Gore on February 8, 1994, the second time in two years that black ballplayers were recognized by the White House. In 1992 President Bush addressed four of them as his "idols."
Legendary pitcher, Wilmer Fields (Homestead Grays 1939-1958 and President of the NLBPA), acted as spokesperson for the Negro League Veterans. The text of his presentation to Vice President Gore follows:
"We want to thank President Clinton and Vice President Gore and others for inviting us to The White House. It is an honor and a pleasure. We want to thank Bob and Zoh Hieronimus for working very hard, trying to complete this mission."
"In memory of the deceased black legends of America's favorite pastime, we salute the many memories that helped to make this affair more spectacular."
"We are always grateful for the publicity we receive because very little was mentioned for 45 years about our contribution as black ballplayers. We are thankful for the dedicated people who did so much in renewing the history of the Negro Leagues. Since the average age of the black legends is 76, time plays an important part in our lives, and maybe this meeting here at The White House will enlighten the public about the black players and their contributions to America's pastime. It is good to know that someone cares. Again, we appreciate the hospitality you have shown us and we wish everyone good health, happiness and success."
After the ceremony, Vice President Gore made the following remarks in an exclusive interview with WJZ-TV, Baltimore and USA Today:
"These are real heroes, and recognition is long overdue. They're pioneers and they've helped to shape American history. Now, during Black History month it is even more appropriate to recognize, belatedly, the athletic accomplishments, and social and personal accomplishments, as they helped to start the process of healing in which our nation is still engaged. But these are veterans and pioneers and personal heroes."
"And boy, the athletic exploits they are known for are absolutely extraordinary! And had they been allowed to be a part of the Major Leagues we would know their names as well as we know the names of Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth... Of course, many do know their names very well, but many more would - and many more will. Thank you."
The 9 veterans honored at the White House February 8, 1994 included: Russell Awkard, Gene Benson, Bill "Ready" Cash, Jim "Fireball" Cohen, Leon Day, Mahlon Duckett, Wilmer Fields, Stanley Glenn and Max Manning.