**Canceled due to weather. Watch for new date!**
Come out to Rathert Field and enjoy the second sign unveiling of the Black History Trail of Geary County. The first site was celebrated at VFW Post #8773 on April 29th. And the third one will be unveiled on July 16 at Ward Chapel Church.
We are celebrating Rathert Field as it was one of the few baseball stadiums that welcomed Black baseball teams in the 30s that were with the Negro Baseball League.
John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil played here as a first baseman and manager of the Kansas City Monarchs. He was a co-founder of the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City and was an articulate spokesman for the history of baseball. Mr. O’Neil returned to Rathert Field to throw the first pitch of a game in 2002. He autographed his new book “Right on Time” and baseballs for the fans.
In 1938, Satchel Paige played for the Salina Blue Jays against the Junction City Hawks and pitched 4 innings and was acknowledged as the winning pitcher. They beat the Junction City Hawks 2-0. In 1948, Mr. Paige joined the Major Leagues and pitched for the Cleveland Indians. His final game was in 1965 for the Kansas City Athletics. He pitched 288 strikeouts during his career.
Kansas Baseball Hall of Famer, David Baker, will throw the first pitch of the Friday night game as he played with the Junction City Hawks at Rathert Field against the Kansas City Monarchs in 1964. Baker played with the Monarchs the following night in Manhattan, Kansas, catching Satchel Paige for two innings. Ted Raseberry, manager of the Monarchs offered Baker a contract to continue playing with the Monarchs, but he did not sign. The Monarchs were the last barn-storming team after the Negro League dissolved because of the signing of Jackie Robinson with the LA Dodgers.
Baker was the first African American Baseball Coach for a Big 8 institution, Kansas State University. He led the Wildcats to 137 wins over six seasons (1978-83), including an appearance in the Big Eight Tournament in 1983 - their first since 1977. Four Wildcats were selected in the MLB Draft under Baker's watch. In 2018, Mr. Baker was honored in the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame.
A table will be set up for autographs starting at 6:15 pm prior to the game against the KC Monarchs and Mr. Baker looks forward to telling stories of baseball in the early days.