Thursday, December 12, 2013
By Mike Lowe firstname.lastname@example.org
(Continued from page 1)
SHARING HIS KNOWLEDGE: Joe Caliro lectures and displays baseball memorabilia of the Negro Leagues at the Portland Public Library. Caliro developed his passion for the Negro Leagues when he was in the military stationed in Biloxi, Miss.
Portland Press Herald photo by John Patriquin
Caliro, who grew up in Providence, R.I., presented some evidence that Maine played a role in the Negro Leagues. While Maine did not have a team, several barnstorming teams played throughout Maine: at Sanford’s Goodall Park, Auburn’s Pettingill Park and in Biddeford. In fact, Caliro spoke about a game in which Bill “Cannonball” Jackman was pitching at Biddeford.
Jackman was a very popular player wherever he went. On this afternoon, according to Caliro, one fan stood up and yelled racist comments at him. Other fans tried to quiet the man. When he refused their pleas, Caliro said the fans took another action.
“At some point they noticed black smoke coming from the parking lot,” he said. “The crowd had set fire to his car.”
With the help of Jeff Cabral and Renee DesRoberts from Biddeford’s McArthur Library, Caliro noted several games that took place in Maine in 1932 (the Philadelphia Colored Giants beating Saco 8-2 at Thornton Heights Field), 1934 (the Royal Colored Giants beating Saco 9-5 in Kennebunk) and 1938 (the N.Y. Colored Giants defeating the Biddeford All-Stars 16-6 at Prospect Park).
Dransfield was certainly glad Caliro brought his exhibit here, if only to remind people of the nation’s racial past.
“I think it’s a forgotten story,” he said. “But it’s one that everyone should know.”