Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Legends to get their due in Hampton Roads African American Sports Hall of Fame

Joe Vann Durham, a former Negro Leagues player from Newport News who was the first athlete from the Peninsula to sign a "big-league" baseball contract, will be inducted into the Hampton Roads African American Sports Hall of Fame.

Durham began his pro baseball career in 1952 with the Chicago American Giants of the Negro American League. The St. Louis Browns signed him in 1953 and assigned him to the York (Pa.) White Roses of the Piedmont League. Durham helped to break the color line in a league with teams in the then-segregated states of Maryland and Virginia. He had a productive year despite enduring poor living conditions and racial slurs.

Durham led the Huntington High Vikings to the 1948-1949 Eastern District basketball championship. Durham was named the tournament's outstanding player and made the all-district team.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A's Bert Shepard Dead at 87

Several years back, the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society annual reunion was a salute to veterans of World War II highlighted by Hall of Famer Bob Feller. Feller remarked that most of the real heroes never made it home.

Of course, Lou Brissie was one that did but also present was Bert Shepard who returned from war missing a leg. With an artificial leg, he had the unrealistic dream of pitching in the major leagues. Monty Stratton, who was the subject of a movie, lost a leg in a hunting accident but while he appeared in some minor league action never returned to the big leagues.Prior to his acccident he pitched for the Chicago White Sox.

On August 4, 1945, the impossible dream came true as Shepard took the mound for the Washingon Senators against the Boston Red Sox and pitched over 5 innings allowing only one run for an earned run average of 1.69.

Men such as Brissie and Shepard served as an inspiration to countless war veterans with disabilities and Brissie continues to visit and encourage veterans of the present conflict.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Former Athletics pitcher Porter Vaughan Passes Away

Porter Vaughan departed this life on July 30, 2008 at the age of 89. Cecil Porter Vaughan was born in Stevensville, VA in 1919.

Porter Vaughan remembered pitching to the great Ted Williams in that memorable double header on the last day of the 1941 season when Williams maintained his batting average above .400 (.406) although he could have sat out and protected his average.

Vaughan pitched for the A's in 1940 and 1941 and spent the years from 1942 to 1945 serving his country. In 1946 he returned to the Philadelphia A's. He had also pitched in the International League and American Association. 58 surviving players from the Athletics are left.