PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The West Michigan Whitecaps wore stirrups, baggy pants and jerseys without names Tuesday at Fifth Third Ballpark.
They had the vintage look of baseball players from the early 1900s, but they weren’t ordinary throwback uniforms. The uniforms were identical to those of the Grand Rapids Black Sox, the West Michigan representative team from the Negro Leagues in the 1940s and 50s.
For West Michigan manager Lance Parrish, it was great to see players wearing the jerseys.
“Everyone was saying we are going to have to wear these tomorrow,” Parrish said. “It was a big night all the way around, it is a huge part of baseball and it was an honor to be a part of that and wear these uniforms.”
Henry Savorson, who is the only player still living from the Black Sox, was at the game and honored beforehand.
He is pictured in the new plaque the Whitecaps revealed down the third base line. Also in the photo is Ted Rasberry, whose name is on area fields where Negro League teams played. They are still used to this day.
Jessica Muzevuca, the Whitecaps community relations manager, said the idea for the game began when the organization started to work with the Negro League groups at Ted Rasberry fields. She had no idea how deep the history ran in Grand Rapids.
“Tonight, it was all about honoring everything that they did for baseball and the city of Grand Rapids,” Muzevuca said. “It got us a win tonight, which is always great.”
The Whitecaps won the game 3-1, with two of the RBIs coming from Whitecaps rookie Nick Quintana. He hit his first home run and RBI single in back-to-back at bats.
Parrish said Quintana jokingly said he might have to keep playing in the jerseys representing the Black Sox.
“I know they are selling these jerseys at some point. He said he might buy his because he hit his first home run in that jersey,” Parrish said. “That’s kind of a neat thing.”
Muzevuca said ideally, the Whitecaps would love to do a Negro Leagues memorial game every season, but they also need to honor the rest of the organization’s community.
“Tonight was a night probably six or seven years in the making,” Muzevuca said. “I hope we can continue this in the future.”
>>App users: More photos from the game