The Seattle Mariners are joining with the Urban League of Seattle for a celebration of the contributions of African Americans to baseball and the Northwest community.
Sunday, August 11, is African American Heritage Day at Safeco Field. Noted African Americans who have contributed to life in the Northwest will take part in a pregame ceremony including former Mariners Alvin Davis and Dave Henderson, NBA legends Freddy Brown and Bill Russell, and Herb Simpson, the last known surviving member of the Seattle Steelheads Negro Leagues team.
Simpson, who is 92, played first base and outfield for the Steelheads, one of six teams in the short-lived West Coast Baseball Association. The league only survived a few months in the summer of 1946, but the Steelheads lived on another year as a traveling all-stars team. Simpson went on to play for the Albuquerque Dukes and Spokane Indians from 1952-1954.
Simpson, who now lives in New Orleans, will be honored on field prior to the Mariners vs. Milwaukee Brewers game (1:10pm first pitch), along with other notable members of the African American community.
Special group seating for the game is available through an exclusive online offer (mariners.com/africanamerican). Tickets are $20 for View Level and $35 for Main Level, with $7 from each ticket sold benefitting the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. Deadline to purchase tickets is noon, Friday, August 9.
The African American Heritage Day celebration will include two special Elliott Bay Book Company author events on Friday and Saturday at Henry's Tavern (1518 1st Ave. South, across from Safeco Field). Larry Colton, author of Southern League, will read from and discuss his book from 4:30-6pm on Friday, and on Saturday, Jonathan Schuppe, author of A Chance to Win, will discuss his book from 3:30-5pm. The events are open to all.
Schuppe is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who chronicles an embattled Little League team in inner-city Newark, New Jersey, coached by a paralyzed, reformed drug dealer who vowed to turn his life around and be a role model to the youngsters living in one of American's most dangerous cities. Colton is an award winning journalist and former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher. Southern League is the "true story of baseball, civil rights and the deep South's most compelling pennant race." It tells the story of the 1946 Birmingham Barons, the first racially-integrated team of any sport in the state of Alabama.
In addition to Herb Simpson, notables to be honored on field prior to Sunday's game are:
Eric Booker, Director of Player Development and Community Relations at Snoqualmie Casino, a talented high school, college and professional athlete who was selected by the Utah Jazz in the 1984 NBA draft.
Fred Brown, known as Downtown Freddie Brown during his days with the Seattle SuperSonics for his prowess at the Three Point Line. Fred has been a successful business executive and entrepreneur since retiring from the NBA.
Alvin Davis, Mr. Mariner, the first member of the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame, 1984 American League Rookie of the Year, All-Star and current Mariners minor league instructor.
Dave Henderson, Hendu, a 14-year Major League veteran, whose late-inning heroics helped propel his teams to four World Series, and included a championship in 1989.
Dr. Lawrence Holland, one of the top orthopedic surgeons in the Northwest. Dr. Holland has worked with the top professional athletes in Seattle through his association with the Seattle Seahawks, SuperSonics and Mariners.
LaSonjia Jack, Senior Director of Business Development for the Microsoft Stores Team. This experienced technology executive has made a career of exceeding sales, launching new programs, and successfully implementing key strategic goals.
The Honorable Richard A. Jones, U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of Washington. This experienced jurist has received many accolades for outstanding service, and received the YWCA's A.K. Guy Award for exceptional volunteer contributions to the community. He hails from a talented Seattle family. He is the brother of musician/composer/producer Quincy Jones.
Dave Mann, former Seattle Rainiers outfielder who was known for his speed on the base paths, and went on to a successful career as a sportswriter and is semi-retired as Sports Editor for The Facts Newspapers, where he has covered the Mariners, Seahawks and Huskies.
Billy North, this Seattle native played Major League Baseball with the Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. In addition to his prowess as a base-stealer, North had outstanding defensive skills and led the league numerous times in several defensive categories.
Bill Russell. Widely considered one of the best players in the history of the National Basketball Association, this Hall of Famer was a five time NBA Most Valuable Player, a 12-time All-Star, and the centerpiece of the Boston Celtics dynasty of the late 50s and 60s which won 11 NBA championships during his 13-year career.