Baseball great Mickey Stubblefield named Grand Marshal

Wednesday, August 31, 2011
85-year-old Mickey Stubblefield of Atlanta, Georgia, formerly of McCook, Nebraska, is honored at a Negro Leagues Tribute Game in Atlanta, Georgia. (Courtesy photo/Stubblefield Family Archives)

McCOOK, Nebraska -- Normally, the "Heritage Days" Committee of the McCook, Nebraska Area Chamber of Commerce maintains silence regarding the dignitaries of our annual community celebration until the traditional announcement at the McCook National Bank mixer in September.

However, there are exceptions to every rule and 2011 will be one of those.

This time around, we need to make the announcement early so that we can promote a reception planned to meet and greet the 2011 Grand Marshal, Mr. Mickey Stubblefield, and his family.

Stubblefield was a right-handed pitcher who threw, "a lot of junk stuff." He told Omaha World Herald reporter Rob White in May 2011, "Curveball. Drop, we called it at the time -- overhand drop, sidearm, underhanded. I could curve it either way. We used to throw it sidearm, and we called that an inshoot." (Courtesy photo/Stubblefield Family Archives)

Mr. Stubblefield played for the McCook Cats semi-pro baseball team in the 1950s, and worked at Hormel Chevrolet in McCook.

Mr. Stubblefield lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his daughter, Mary, and her family. Mickey, 85, is excited to make the trip so that he can revisit his home of over 20 years where he and his wife raised their family between the years of 1950 and the early 70s.

Mr. Stubblefield played baseball for the McCook Cats in the 1950s and went on to play semi-pro baseball on various teams around the country.

Mickey Stubblefield joined the McCook, Nebraska, Cats semi-pro baseball team as a right-handed pitcher in late 1949 and went 13-6 in 1950. He was among the first black players in the Nebraska Independent League. Cats team mates in 1950-51 were, front row from left, Don Hayes, (?), P.O. Karthauser, Al McElreath, (?), (?) and Mickey Stubblefield. Back row: Hobie Hays, Ed Miller, Bill Gardner, Horace Garner, Ed Van Norden, Bob Grogan, Gene Dallenback and (?). (Courtesy photo/Stubblefield Family Archives)

He was recently honored at the fifth annual Negro Leagues Tribute Game in Atlanta for his contributions to breaking the racial barriers so prevalent at that time in our country's history.

Heritage Days committee members had already selected the Heritage Days theme, "Back in the Day ... ," when an article in the Omaha World Herald newspaper on Stubblefield caught their attention. "Back In The Day....," our newly-selected theme, and Mr. Stubblefield seem a perfect fit.

Stubblefield and several members of his family will be present during the celebration and look forward to the reception in his honor.

The reception, scheduled Thursday, Sept. 22, at the High Plains Museum in downtown McCook, will begin at 7 p.m.

Everyone is welcome to attend.

Mr. Stubblefield was quoted in the Omaha World Herald, "In Nebraska, I didn't know I was black unless I looked in the mirror. They treated me so well."

Stubblefield's Career

1940 Mayfield, Kentucky, Black Hawks, Kitty League

1947 Omaha Rockets, Basketball Negro League

1948-49 Kansas City Monarchs, Negro American League, winning 20 games in his first season

1950 McCook Cats, Nebraska State League

1952 A Pittsburgh Pirates' farm team called the Mayfield Clothiers, Kitty League

June 26, 1952 -- Broke a 50-year barrier in the Kitty League when he became the first Negro baseball player, and he and the Clothiers beat a team from Paducah 5-4 in his Kitty League debut game.

1953 Minnesota Dukes in Duluth, Minnesota

Born in 1926 in Mayfield, Kentucky, Stubblefield's baseball career started with batboy duties as a 13-year-old. A year later, he was playing for the Mayfield Hawks.

After serving in the U.S. Navy, Stubblefield signed a contract to play baseball with an all-black club for the Western League in Omaha.

By 1953, Stubblefield felt his arm had given out, and he returned to McCook, playing again for the Cats. He and his wife made McCook home for their family, of 10 children, until 1970.

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