KANSAS CITY - For Orioles shortstop Richie Martin, Friday was not just another day on the baseball calender. It was a special day where he learned more about the Grandfather who passed away before he was born and realized further the legacy he carries on in the sport.
Martin’s granddad, Walter “Bancy” Thomas, played in the Negro Leagues for several seasons and was on the 1945 Kansas City Monarchs. His teammates that season included Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige.
Thomas died before Martin was born, but his mom, Deborah, had told him a few things along the way about Thomas’ career.
Friday morning, Martin and a few teammates got a guided tour of the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City and museum president Bob Kendrick led the way. He’s a walking encyclopedia of Negro Leagues history and knowledge. It was special for Martin to meet and get to know and bond with Kendrick while learning even more about his grandfather.
“It really just makes me appreciate what we as players have today,” Martin said before Friday’s game. “Those guys had a tough time. Just the ability to go out and play. Bob told us the Negro Leagues, all they cared about was if you could play. They didn’t care what color you were or what you looked like. I really appreciated that. Not that I didn’t have an appreciation before but this gave me more of a love for the game and just motivates me more to carry on that legacy and take pride in what we do.”
It was a day filled with some emotion.
“Yeah, it was,” said Martin, who drove in a run in the Orioles’ 14-2 win last night. “Just seeing what those guys had to go through. It was rough. Just the way they were treated and what they had to do just to be able to able to play the game.”
Kendrick presented Martin with 1945 Monarchs’ home and road jerseys.
“He was awesome. That was my first time meeting him,” Martin said of Kendrick, a tremendous historian of the Negro League. “The whole tour was great. Nothing was scripted. It was from the bottom of his heart which is what I appreciated the most. I appreciated the whole thing. Makes me want to go out and finish this year strong and carry it into next year and play for what those guys did for us.”
Carrying on a family legacy in the sport is special to Martin.
“Very special. I already take pride in it, but it makes me have more of an appreciation for what we have. Just look around this locker room and half the locker room is Latin and we have a lot of African-Americans and guys from all over the world. That is what baseball is about. Being able to come together. But those guys paved the way and allowed us to have this opportunity. I would have never met anyone from the Dominican Republic, or Venezuela or Japan. I think that is what the museum is all about. What they had to go through for us to be in the position we are today.”
Welcomed @orioles shortstop, @richiemartinjr to the NLBM today. His grandfather, Walter Thomas, was a teammate of Jackie Robinson w/the Monarchs in 1945. Presented Richie w/a ‘45 Monarchs home & road jersey to commemorate his visit & his family’s legacy! @MLB @MLB_PLAYERS RT pic.twitter.com/161ZizyUN1-- negroleaguesmuseum (@nlbmprez) August 30, 2019
Bowie and Aberdeen pushing for playoff spots: Double-A Bowie is very close and short-season Single-A Aberdeen got closer to a playoff berth last night as both clubs posted important wins.
Bowie (46-23) won 5-3 at Richmond after being no-hit for the first 6 2/3 innings. Now the magic number is one for Bowie to win the Eastern League West division second half. One more Bowie win or Erie loss will clinch the playoffs for Bowie.
Aberdeen beat Brooklyn 5-4. Now 41-31 with three games left, Aberdeen is tied for first in its division with Hudson Valley and is tied for first with the same team in the wild card race. And starting tonight Aberdeen plays its final three games at Hudson Valley.
O’s notes: The Orioles ended a seven-game losing streak at Kansas City with Friday’s blowout win at Kauffman Stadium. They are 4-1 the last five games overall and have won six of their last nine - including three versus Kansas City - on the heels of a 1-13 stretch from Aug. 5-19.
It was their first win at Kansas City since April 23, 2016, and they improved to 3-1 against the Royals this season. They scored 14 runs on 21 hits, their most runs in a game since July 27, 2018 versus Tampa Bay (15) and their most hits since Aug. 25, 2017 at Boston (21). The Orioles went 10-for-22 with runners in scoring position, their most such hits in a game since Aug. 16, 2015 against Oakland, when they went 12-for-23.
Lefty John Means became the first Orioles rookie with a 10-win season since Dylan Bundy went 10-6 in 2016. Means is the sixth Baltimore left-handed pitcher with a 10-win rookie season, joining: Wei-Yin Chen (12 in 2012), Zack Britton (11 in 2011), Brian Matusz (10 in 2010), Eric Bell (10 in 1987) and Steve Barber (10 in 1960).
O’s infielder Hanser Alberto set a career high with five hits to mark the third five-hit game by an Oriole this season (also Anthony Santander on Aug. 25 and Renato Núñez on Aug. 14). He’s the first Orioles third baseman with a five-hit game since Manny Machado on July 7, 2014 at Washington.
Three of his five hits came off left-handed pitcher Eric Skoglund, increasing his MLB-leading average versus southpaws to .417 (75-for-180). According to ELIAS, the last Orioles player to hit .400 or better in a season against left handers was Mike Bordick (.402) in 1999. Alberto’s 75 hits versus lefties sets a new club record, two more than Rafael Palmeiro, who held the previous record of 73 hits off lefties in 1998. The last player in MLB with more hits against southpaws in a single season was Derek Jeter, who had 78 in 2012.