February 20, 2017


Speak Their Names (SHAKEIA TAYLOR, 2/20/17, Hardball Times)

"A person dies three times," Dr. Jeremy Krock says. "First when their body stops functioning, second when they are buried, and finally, the last time someone says their name. My goal is to keep the names of Negro Leagues ballplayers and others connected to it alive." Krock, an anesthesiologist in Peoria, Ill., grew up listening to relatives' stories of Jimmie Crutchfield, an outfielder who began his career with the Birmingham Black Barons, and fellow resident of Ardmore, Mo. His family spoke proudly of Crutchfield, a Negro Leagues player who "escaped the hard, dangerous life of the coal mines to play baseball."

During a trip to Chicago's The Field Museum, Krock picked up a book written by Larry Lester, Sammy J. Miller and Dick Clark titled, Black Baseball in Chicago and in it stumbled upon photographs of Crutchfield. Krock discovered that, after his retirement and before his death in 1993, Crutchfield had worked in a Chicago post office. It seemed natural to Krock to visit the man he had heard so much about.

The book had no details of Crutchfield's passing or where he was buried, so Krock contacted Clark, co-chair of the Negro Leagues Committee of the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR). Clark provided the name of the funeral home that handled Crutchfield's service, and with that information, Krock tracked down Crutchfield's final resting place. Later that year, Krock traveled to Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Ill., to pay his respects. There, Krock found that Crutchfield and his wife, Julia, had been buried in unmarked graves, a disappointing ending to the story. It was then that the Negro Leagues Baseball Grave Marker Project was born.

Posted by at February 20, 2017 9:14 AM