Preserving the Negro League's legacy
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- When the Milwaukee Brewers return home to face the Atlanta Braves on Friday, July 21, it will be their 18th Annual Negro League Game.
Dennis Biddle, a former player for the Chicago American Giants, has become a steward for that history.
The location of that history may have changed inside Mayfair Mall.
"Four years ago, we had a traveling exhibit that we had upstairs," said Dennis.
"The mall liked it, so when the store came available, they gave it to us to put so we could have more memorabilia. And I think we thank them for that," said Dennis. "A lot of people said we didn't even know y'all was here."
Dennis is the president of Yesterday's Negro League Baseball Player Foundation and runs the store with his wife, Patrice. 100 years of history is on display on the walls and the shelves.
"I really feel that I have done what I promised Mr. Sherwood Brewer, who started the organization, that I would do. Before he died, I promised him I would keep the legacy going," said Dennis.
The store serves as one aspect of how Dennis tries to honor his promise. He's also written a book, Secrets of The Negro Baseball League, and is working on another one. Patrice has created an educational platform called bridging the gap to greatness.
"The history of Negro League Baseball by the players that played," said Patrice.
The program partners with schools and community organizations through the art of the game initiative.
"We started out with creating these books of his (Dennis) childhood experiences," said Patrice.
That's reinforced by interactive lessons for students and baseball clinics creating a foundation for future generations in the sport.
"A program that will preserve the legacy for generations to come," said Patrice.
Ten former Negro League players will represent some of that legacy at American Family Field Friday, being honored before the game and signing autographs.
"Every time I do that, I feel I'm doing it for someone that didn't know nothing about it. That's gratification for me," said Dennis. "Passed it (the history) down to our young people, so they got to know the true history of the Negro Baseball League."
On Saturday, July 22, they will also honor James Beckum at a Negro Little League All-Star Game at 10am at Beckum Little League Stadium. Then, there will be a Historical Landmark Commemoration Ceremony at 2pm at the Clinton Rose Center for the Milwaukee Bears, a Negro League team in Milwaukee in 1923.