August 15, 2013

Mainers turn out to remember baseball's Negro Leagues

'It's a chapter about the worst in us,' but it's also a story of hope, courage and perseverance, a lecturer says.

By Mike Lowe
Staff Writer

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Caliro, who grew up in Providence, R.I., presented some evidence that Maine played a role in the Negro Leagues. Although Maine did not have a team, several barnstorming teams played around Maine, at Sanford's Goodall Park, Auburn's Pettingill Park and in Biddeford.

Caliro spoke about a game in which Bill "Cannonball" Jackman was pitching at Biddeford. Jackman was a popular player wherever he went. On this afternoon, according to Caliro, one fan stood up and yelled racist comments at him. Other fans tried to quiet the man. When he refused their pleas, Caliro said the fans took another action.

"At some point they noticed black smoke coming from the parking lot," he said. "The crowd had set fire to his car."

With the help of Jeff Cabral and Renee DesRoberts from Biddeford's McArthur Library, Caliro noted several games that took place in Maine in 1932 (the Philadelphia Colored Giants beating Saco 8-2 at Thornton Heights Field), 1934 (the Royal Colored Giants beating Saco 9-5 in Kennebunk) and 1938 (the N.Y. Colored Giants defeating the Biddeford All-Stars 16-6 at Prospect Park).

Dransfield was certainly glad that Caliro brought his exhibit here, if only to remind people of the nation's racial past.

"I think it's a forgotten story," he said. "But it's one that everyone should know."

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH


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