John Holoway is the foremost Negro League historian in the country. He saw his first Negro League game in 1941 featuring Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson.
Mr. Holway has written five books on the Negro Leagues as well as other books regarding Ted Williams, Japanese baseball, and baseball astrology. His book Red Tails Black Wings, the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, was the basis of the Lucasfilm movie titled Red Tails. That movie was released in 2012.
Mr. Holway continues to write about the Negro Leagues and is currently working on More Blackball Tales, the third in a trilogy of interviews with pioneer black ballplayers, and Superstars of Black Baseball, a register of the 100 all-time black players prior to 1947.
The pitching dentist, Doc Sykes, was 90 years old when I met him at a Negro League reunion in Ashland, Kentucky in 1982. Erect, white-haired, with a thin white mustache, he was the patriarch of the group. In addition to baseball, Sykes played a critical role at a moment of great tension and danger in the history of the civil rights movement when he testified in the famous 1933 Scottsboro murder trial in Alabama.
On a muggy night in May 1944, a 14-year-old boy joined some 30,000 fans at Washington’s old Griffith Stadium to watch one of the great matchups of baseball history, the two most famous names in the Negro Leagues going against each other head to head—Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige.