Baseball Greats and Music Legends Team up to Celebrate an Extraordinary Lowndes County Citizen

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Event to recognize the achievements of a man who distinguished himself at every level of baseball during his professional career spanning more than 50 years will include performances by Blues Hall of Fame inductee, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Percy Sledge, and appearances by members of Major League and Negro Leagues baseball. Other popular regional acts participating in the celebration include Big Ben Atkins & the Class of ’65, Big Joe Shelton, and Keith & Margie.

Samuel Harding Hairston

A native of Lowndes County, Miss., Samuel Harding Hairston, (January 20, 1920 - October 31, 1997) is credited with being the first African-American player signed by the Chicago White Sox. Hairston’s professional baseball career as a player, scout and coach spanned 53 years, 47 of which he spent with the White Sox organization. Hairston played for the Negro Leagues’ Birmingham Black Barons and the Indianapolis Clowns before debuting with the Major League’s Chicago White Sox on July 21, 1951. As the father of MLB players Jerry Hairston, Sr. and John Hairston, and grandfather of MLB players Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Scott Hairston, Sam is patriarch to the largest three-generation baseball dynasty in baseball history.

Sponsored in part by the Chicago White Sox, the Sam Hairston Celebration will take place October 13-16, 2010 in the city of Columbus, Miss. The celebration shines a spotlight on two historically significant sites. Hairston’s childhood neighborhood will be recognized with the unveiling of a Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) historic marker and the dedication of the Sam Hairston Baseball Park at Weyerhauser Field near Hairston’s first home. The site of the Queen City Hotel, the hotel that served as home base for Hairston and other Negro League Baseball players such as Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, and James “Cool Papa” Bell while on the road, will also receive a MDAH marker.

What began simply as an effort to honor a Lowndes County native of great achievement has developed into an opportunity to motivate area youth to strive for excellence in all aspects of their life. The event will feature educational and motivational lectures at area schools by author and Negro League Baseball historian, Larry Lester. Lester is one of the founders of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., and served as its Research Director and Treasurer from 1991-1995. The museum’s static exhibition was developed from Lester’s research and personal collection of photographs and memorabilia. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., will soon release the findings of the four-year research project, “Out of the Shadows,” conducted by Lester on African-American baseball from the Civil War to the mid-fifties.

In conjunction with the celebration, the Columbus Public Library will house an exhibit focusing on Sam Hairston and the history of Negro Leagues Baseball during the months of October and November. The official opening of the exhibit will take place during the Sam Hairston Celebration and will feature an autograph-signing session with players from the Negro Leagues, including members of the Birmingham Black Barons.

Other special guests expected to attend the celebration are members of the Hairston family, including Sam’s sons, John Hairston, former catcher and left fielder with the Chicago Cubs, and Jerry Hairston, Sr., who played 14 seasons with the Chicago White Sox and currently coaches for the Bristol White Sox. Also expected to attend are Hairston’s grandsons, Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Scott Hairston, both of the San Diego Padres.

For more information, please call (800) 920-3533 or visit Concert wristbands for the Bland/Sledge performance are on sale on-line. $20 general admission/$100 VIP

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