Friday, January 6, 2017

RIP, Superman Pennington

Art Pennington during a pregame ceremony
before a minor league game in Cedar Rapids
in 2012. Photo by Linda Vanderwerf
Art Pennington, who had to have been one of our last links to the long-defunct Negro Leagues, died this week in his adoptive home town of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He was 93.

"Superman" never got to play in the majors, and his official stat line is emphatically incomplete, but he was an outstanding player anyway. I highly recommend this on-line piece from the Hall of Fame on Pennington, his baseball career and his times. And the obit from the Cedar Rapids newspaper, linked to in the first paragraph, as well.

My wife and I saw Pennington throwing out a first pitch at a Kernels game in 2012, something he did frequently. It pleases me that the Kernels embraced him. The Negro Leagues are a fascinating and complex piece of history -- not just baseball history, but that of this nation's society and economics, a piece of history that deserves our memory and respect.

It's quite likely that there are a few people left to played in the old segregated leagues, but there can't be many, and I doubt that any of the survivors were as good as Superman Pennington.

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