ST. LOUIS — Stars Field is part of the campus of Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis.  The baseball field is also the site where many great Negro League players competed in the 1920’s.  

“This was one of the first African American-owned and built parks in the Negro Leagues,” said Ed Wheatley, president of the St. Louis Browns Historical Society.

Negro League teams competed at Stars Park from 1922 until 1931.  St. Louis was known for showcasing some of the greatest players in the league. The St. Louis Stars won three championships in the 1920s. 

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Tandy Park in St. Louis was another place where black players would compete with hopes of making it into the Negro Leagues.

Wheatley said playing in a segregated society was no easy task.  For example, players traveling from city to city had to worry if they would find a restaurant or hotel willing to accommodate black customers.

Wheatley has documented much of the history involving baseball in St. Louis through books and film.  He believes sharing that history helps ensure the contributions of baseball pioneers will be appreciated.

Pernell Roberts Jr. is the baseball coach for Harris-Stowe State University.  He feels a special connection to coaching on the historic field where he once played as a college athlete.

“I don’t feel like it gets any better than that, to be honest, especially at your alma mater,” said Roberts.

He’s grateful for the pioneers who broke through baseball’s color barrier.

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“Thank you, Jackie (Robinson), and everyone else who came along with him and kind of paved the way for guys like me, guys currently in the Major Leagues and guys that are coming behind us,” Roberts said.

He hopes current players will take time to better understand the history of the players who persevered through discrimination to create better opportunities.

Roberts added that plans are in the works for the Hornets to play a game at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, next year.  That’s the field where the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants played Thursday, in tribute to Negro League players.