On Thursday, [Ozzie] Smith joined Royals Hall of Famer Frank White, Mike Thompson of Rawlings (which hands out the major-league Gold Gloves each year) and [Negro Leagues Baseball Museum] president Bob Kendrick in announcing the all-time list of “Gold Glove” Negro Leagues defensive players.
A special panel of historians and journalists chose the winners… pitcher Leon Day, catcher Raleigh “Biz” Mackey, first baseman Walter “Buck” Leonard, second baseman Newton “Newt” Allen, third baseman Ray Dandridge, shortstop Willie Wells, and outfielders James “Cool Papa” Bell, Martin Dihigo and Oscar Charleston.
White, who won eight Gold Glove awards with the Royals, said Negro Leaguers had a profound effect on him as a kid. He fondly recalled watching the players take infield practice — without a ball.
They would mimic all sorts of plays, and White was enthralled.
“They were not only great athletes, but they were also great baseball players,” White recalled. “It was kind of like watching the Globetrotters and the Washington Generals. The baseball players were that good.”
Kendrick said he had no trouble recruiting Smith and White for Thursday’s event, which included a special Gold Glove award for Buck O’Neil, whose name is synonymous with the museum.