For the second consecutive year, the Fresno Grizzlies transformed into the Fresno Tigers to pay tribute to the 1946 West Coast Negro League baseball team on Friday night at Chukchansi Park. Since scant visual representation of the Fresno Tigers has survived, the club donned newly reimagined Tigers uniforms as part
For the second consecutive year, the Fresno Grizzlies transformed into the Fresno Tigers to pay tribute to the 1946 West Coast Negro League baseball team on Friday night at Chukchansi Park. Since scant visual representation of the Fresno Tigers has survived, the club donned newly reimagined Tigers uniforms as part of its Juneteenth celebration.
"The Fresno Grizzlies were honored to pay tribute to the 1946 West Coast Negro League Fresno Tigers on Friday night," Fresno Grizzlies president Derek Franks said. "We are incredibly fortunate to have a platform where we can spread the word about the Tigers, which is an important piece of baseball history in our city."
Very little information can be found about the 1946 Tigers. The team played just a handful of games at Fresno Midget Auto Race Park before moving to San Diego later that same year.
"Celebrating the Tigers gives us the chance to educate our community about Negro League baseball on the West Coast while giving the team the respect and recognition they deserve," Franks said.
The Tigers were one of six professional clubs that made up the West Coast Negro League. In addition to wearing special uniforms and hats on Friday night, the club also handed out Fresno Tigers pennants to fans.
Salute to the Negro Leagues night
The schedule showed the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp against the Memphis Redbirds on Saturday night at 121 Financial Ballpark, but for anyone who saw the game it was actually the Jacksonville Red Caps taking on the Akron Black Tyrites as the clubs celebrated a salute to the Negro Leagues.
The Jacksonville Red Caps played in the Negro American League in 1938 and from 1941-42 at Durkee Field in Jacksonville. Meanwhile, the Redbirds took part by donning the identity of the team's sister club from Akron, the Black Tyrites. The Black Tyrites were one of the top independent Negro League teams in 1933.
As part of the celebration, Sean Gibson, the great-grandson of Josh Gibson, was on hand for a player meet-and-greet. Josh Gibson is considered one of the best best power hitters and catchers in baseball history. Despite never playing in the Major Leagues, he became the second Negro League player to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
"This is always one of my favorite days of the year," Jumbo Shrimp director of broadcasting and media relations Scott Kornberg said. "It’s truly incredible to see the Jacksonville community embrace the wonderful history of the Red Caps and the Negro Leagues, and our organization’s ability to tie in the family of a former Red Caps player, as well as the legendary Josh Gibson, is so special.”
The evening also included a Charles Harris Bobblehead giveaway. Charles Harris was a second baseman for the Red Caps in 1944, and his grandson sang the National Anthem as well as Lift Every Voice And Sing (often referred to as "The Black National Anthem") before the game.
Another element of the evening gave fans the opportunity to learn local and national Negro Leagues history as the video board shared various stats and Negro Leagues information in-between innings throughout the game.
Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobTnova24.