21st annual African American Children's Book Fair
Despite early questionable weather (a snow storm that seemed to disappear justlikethat), about 2,500 folks flocked to the children's book fair at Community College of Philadelphia on Feb. 9. The brainchild of literary publicist Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati (who is also the cousin of Bill "Ready" Cash), the fair has become a staple in Philadelphia's African American community. It is a great way for African American children and adults to discover books tailored to them, and for African American authors and illustrators to gain exposure. Thou Shalt Not Steal was among the titles available. When it comes to Bill's book, one of Vanesse's favorite sayings, "Preserve A Legacy, Buy a Book," seems pretty apt.
Norristown Arts Hill Festival
This city is definitely interested in baseball -- and history. Bill's book drew a pleasantly surprising amount of interest from among the folks who attended the Norristown Arts Hill Festival on May 4. The festival, held on DeKalb Street between Lafayette and Airy Streets, celebrated its 4th year and featured fine art artists, craftspersons, music performers, arts-related organizations, a Montgomery County Idol competition -- and food. The weather was beautiful, though brisk breezes occasionally played havoc on vendor exhibits and banners. The interaction with festival-goers was fun, relaxed, and educational. And the variety of vendors gave this big-little festival an extra added appeal. Be sure to check it out in 2014!
16th Annual Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference
The 16th Annual Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference was an eye-opening experience. Held at the Renaissance Newark (N.J.) Airport Hotel June 13-15, the “biggest and best black baseball conference in America” brought together former Negro League players (including Pedro Sierra and Jim Robinson), researchers, academics, collectors, vendors, writers, and children. A family atmosphere pervaded; most folks knew and respected one another, and there was no sense of ego or entitlement -- just a joyous love for Negro League baseball. There were wonderful presentations, most focused on the Negro League’s impact in the Newark area and various looks at the great Newark Eagles. “Thou Shalt Not Steal” co-author Al Hunter Jr. was on the authors panel that included Jim Overmyer, Neil Lanctot, and Dr. Lawrence Hogan. But the convention highlight came Friday afternoon when students from the Edward T. Bowser Elementary School portrayed themselves as wax Negro League figurines who, with the press of a button, magically came to life and talked about their character. The students researched the information about their wax figurine character. Kudos to Larry Lester, Dick Clark, Leslie Heaphy and the rest of the conference leadership team for an enjoyable, informative, and enriching experience.
Feb. 9: African American Children't Book Fair, Community College of Philadelphia, Philadelphia.
Feb. 10: "Book Chat" taping, Upper Merion Township Building.
Feb. 23: Attended presentation by Negro Leaguer Bill Greason, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, Mullica Hill, NJ.
March 30: Black History and Culture Showcase, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia.
March 31: Black History and Culture Showcase, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia.
April 1: Eastwick Branch, Free Library of Philadelphia.
April 5: Parkway Central Library, Free Library of Philadelphia.
April 6: Baltimore Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Baltimore, MD.
April 13: "Book Chat" with Upper Merion Library Director Karl Helicher, 8 pm, UMGA-TV: www.umtownship.org, Comcast channel 22, Verizon channel 33 (rebroadcast).
April 14:"Book Chat" with Upper Merion Library Director Karl Helicher, 8 pm, UMGA-TV: www.umtownship.org, Comcast channel 22, Verizon channel 33 (rebroadcast).
April 30: "Book Chat" with Upper Merion Library Director Karl Helicher, 8 pm, UMGA-TV: www.umtownship.org, Comcast channel 22, Verizon channel 33 (rebroadcast).
May 4: 4th Annual Norristown (PA) Arts Hill Festival, Norristown Arts Hill, DeKalb Street between Lafayette and Airy streets.
May 18: Darby Free Library, 1001 Main Street, Darby, PA.
June 13-15: Authors panel, 16th annual Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference, Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel, Newark, NJ.
Aug. 17: Judy Johnson Night at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium, Wilmington, DE.
Sept. 22: 5th annual Chestnut Hill Book Festival, 2:15-3:30 p.m., Chestnut Hill 7 restaurant, 8201 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia. (With author/Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Baer; moderated by Pete Mazzacarro, editor, The Chestnut Hill Local.)
Nov. 9: Speaker, Cabrini College History and Political Science Club Forum. "Pennsylvania: Past and Present."
Updates and News Stories from 2012
Thou Shalt Not Steal Donated to Chester, Northeast High Libraries
Reading is crucial to a good education. So on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, a copy of Thou Shalt Not Steal was given to Chester High School's acting principal, Will Towson, for inclusion in the school's library. And in September, co-author Al Hunter Jr. donated a copy to his alma mater, Northeast High School, at Cottman and Algon avenues in Philadelphia. Hunter is a 1975 graduate of the school. The Chester High donation came after a "males only" assembly of students. The assembly was led by local members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., who offered the students help in their academic and career pursuits.
Harold L. Gould Sr.: One of the Last Philadelphia Stars
Former Philadelphia Stars pitcher Harold Gould died of cancer on Nov. 9, 2012. He was 88 years old and lived in Millville, N.J. Mr. Gould was a teammate of Bill's in the 1940s, and in later years appeared with him at Negro League events. Co-author Al Hunter Jr. last saw Mr. Gould at Citizens Bank Park during the annual Jackie Robinson Day on April 15th. Mr. Gould's death leaves only one remaining Philadelphia Star: infielder Mahlon Duckett. Please read this great obituary by Kathleen Tinney in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Free Library of Philadelphia Adds Thou Shalt Not Steal To Catalogue
Thou Shalt Not Steal is now in circulation at the main branch of The Free Library of Philadelphia and in five additional branches across the city. All you need is a Free Library of Philadelphia library card to borrow Bill’s autobiography and be transported back to the heyday of the Negro Leagues and to a time when Philadelphia and America were racially evolving. It’s great to know Bill’s book is available to so many more readers. Thou Shalt Not Steal can be borrowed from:
- The Lucien E. Blackwell West Philadelphia Regional, 125 S. 52nd St. 215-685- 7424.
- Joseph E. Coleman Northwest Regional, 68. W. Chelten Ave. 215-685-2150.
- Eastwick Branch, 2851 Island Ave., 215-685-4170.
- Northeast Regional, 2228 Cottman Ave. 215-685-0522.
- South Philadelphia Branch, 1700 S. Broad St. 215-685-1866.
- Parkway Central (main) Library, 1901 Vine St. 215-686-5322.
Thou Shalt Not Steal Wins Prestigious Negro League Book Award
Thou Shalt Not Steal has won the Robert Peterson Recognition Award from the Society for American Baseball Research's Negro Leagues Committee. The award goes to "bodies of work that increase public awareness of the Negro Leagues." The award, made during the 15th annual Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, July 19-21, 2012, is named in honor of Robert Peterson, author of the ground-breaking 1970 Negro League book, Only The Ball Was White.
Thou Shalt Not Steal Circulates in HBCU Libraries
Love Eagle Books LLC is proud to announce that Thou Shalt Not Steal: The Baseball Life and Times of a Rifle-Armed Negro League Catcher is now in circulation at the Robert W. Woodruff Library – Atlanta University Center. This wonderful library serves “the world’s largest and oldest consortium of historically black colleges and universities,” according to the center's website. The schools are Clark Atlanta University, The Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse College, and Spelman College. Love Eagle Books thanks librarian Yolanda Gilmore-Bivins for recognizing the historical significance of Bill's book. See photo below.
Negro League Museum Names 'Gold Glove' Players
Pitcher Leon Day, outfielders James "Cool Papa" Bell and Oscar Charleston, and catcher Raleigh "Biz" Mackey were among the Negro League legends honored as the best defensive players in league history. A six-member panel selected the nine players, who were bestowed with commemorative Rawlings Gold Gloves. Walter "Buck" Leonard (1B), Newton "Newt" Allen (2B), Ray Dandridge (3B), Willie Wells (SS), and Martin Dihigo (O) complete the lineup. An honorary Gold Glove was given to Buck O'Neil. The announcement came June 28, 2012, at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo. "Nine have their names on these awards, but we could probably name nine teams of nine," said museum president Bob Kendrick, according to the Kansas City Star. "These guys would be a 'SportsCenter' highlight every night and that's the kind of players we are talking about." Kendrick was on the panel with baseball historian and author Phil Dixon, Negro Leagues researcher Dr. Layton Revel, baseball historian and author James Riley, USA Today writer Joe Posnanski, and Negro League star Monte Irvin.
Overbrook High Library Gets Book Donation
On May 15, 2012, a copy of Thou Shalt Not Steal was donated to the school library at Overbrook High in Philadelphia. Bill attended 'Brook in the 1930s and was a member of its baseball team. But he left the school in 1936, a few months before graduation, so he could go to work and help his struggling family. Many famous people attended Overbrook including basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain, actor Will Smith, and astronaut Guion S. Bluford.
Phillies Include Thou Shalt Not Steal in Jackie Robinson Day Ceremonies
Thou Shalt Not Steal was part of the Philadelphia Phillies' Jackie Robinson Day activities Sunday, April 15, 2012, at Citizens Bank Park. On hand for the ceremonies were surviving members of the Philadelphia Stars, Mahlon Duckett and Harold Gould, as well as the Tuskegee Airmen. The Phillies selected this special day to offer Bill's book for sale to fans at the stadium.
Ryan Howard Helps Rehab Inner City Ball Field
Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, one of Bill's favorite contemporary players, has helped renovate a deteriorating inner city baseball field in Philadelphia. The Ryan Howard Family Foundation donated $150,000 to improve the field in the city's Hunting Park section, where the Hunting Park Indians play. The Citizens Bank Foundation contributed $40,000. The improvements include new turf, lights, bleachers, fencing, and an electronic scoreboard. Over the years, Howard's foundation has provided the Indians with new uniforms, cleats and other equipment.
Negro Leaguers Meet in Birmingham, Ala.
Negro Leaguers from across the country converged on Birmingham, Ala., for a three-day reunion, culminated by a ceremony at Rickwood Field, home of the Birmingham Black Barons. The reunion, from May 28 to May 30, 2012, included a picnic, an award ceremony, and acknowledgment of the players at the Rickwood Classic, an annual game held at the country's oldest ballpark.
22nd annual Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival
There's no doubt jazz and Negro League history make a great pairing. Proof of that? The 22nd Annual Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival held Labor Day Weekend (Aug. 31-Sept 3rd, 2012) at the Airport Embassy Suites in Philadelphia. Great jazz vocalists and instrumentalists from the Philadelphia region put on quite a display. Among the many highlights: original Pieces of A Dream bassist Cedric A. Napolean sitting in with vocalist Barbara Walker on the Pieces' hit, "Warm Weather"; German violinist Joerg Widmoser and saxophonist Tony Williams turning simple church songs into fiery jazz songs; and comedian Bill Cosby playing drums and "conducting" the Reunion Band. The crowd was wonderful and full of Negro League fans: Thou Shalt Not Steal sold out (46 copies).
17th annual Judy Johnson Night, Wilmington, Del.
It seemed appropriate the game Aug. 18, 2012, between the Lynchburg Hillcats and Wilmington Blue Rocks ended in a nail-biting, two-out, bases-loaded, bottom of the ninth single win for the home team. The excitement Blue Rock fans felt that half-inning was present throughout the day in and around Judy Johnson Field at Frawley Stadium, as the city of Wilmington and state of Delaware honored the great Negro Leaguer John Henry "Pop" Lloyd. Former Negro Leaguers came from throughout the region and were recognized prior to the game. Fans received a commemorative poster of Lloyd, who was inducted into the national Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974. Vendors sold Negro League memorabilia, and there were displays about the Negro Leagues to educate and entertain fans. A silent auction was held to benefit the Judy Johnson Scholarship Fund. Among the items for auction was a copy of Thou Shalt Not Steal. Bill often attended this special game. This year, co-author Al Hunter Jr. was in attendance to help spread Bill's legacy.
Black Family Heritage Festival, Burlington County N.J.
Thousands enjoyed the music, camaraderie, and beautiful weather along the waterfront at the 10th annual Black Family Heritage Festival in Burlington City, N.J., on July 21, 2012. And Thou Shalt Not Steal was there. Thanks to kindness of Larry Miles, owner of the La Unique African American Book Store in Camden N.J., Al Hunter Jr. was the featured author at La Unique’s tent. Miles offered a strongly diverse selection of African American books for sale, from consciousness awareness to urban literature. The festival is sponsored by the Burlington Brotherhood, founded in 2002 and “dedicated to helping the underprivileged and underserved boys of Burlington City to reach their full potential while giving back and supporting the community,” according to its website. Burlington Brotherhood: www.burlingtonbrotherhood.com; La Unique: www.launiquebooks.net.
Bindlestiff Books and The Dollar Stroll, Philadelphia, Pa.
A fabulous co-op bookstore, Bindlestiff Books in Philadelphia, got behind Thou Shalt Not Steal and highlighted the book during the popular Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll July 19, 2012. The store at 4530 Baltimore Ave. was an early supporter of Thou Shalt Not Steal and during the stroll hosted a reading and book signing by co-author Al Hunter Jr. Held during the summer months, the Dollar Stroll features businesses along the avenue offering $1 specials to passerbys.
MeJah Books, Claymont, Del.
The day before Father's Day was a great day for Thou Shalt Not Steal. People from all walks of life -- many lured by a great preview piece written by Reid Champagne in the Wilmington NewsJournal newspaper -- came to MeJah Books in the Tri-State Mall on June 16, 2012, to purchase Bill's book and have it signed. It was a wonderfully diverse crowd. Al and his fiancee Wanda came with 30 books; 26 sold. Except for a signing at Bill's church, this was the most ever sold in a single day. But the numbers are unimportant; What was more meaningful was the cross-section of folks -- white and African American -- that came out. Even a former neighbor from Bill's childhood days in Elmwood ("the Meadows") came. And one of the icons of self-publishing success, Essence Best Selling Author Karen E. Quinones Miller, stopped by with her daughter Camille to lend support -- and help sell a few books. Ms. Em and Diane of MeJah Books provided great hospitality and embraced the book. That's why independent books stores are so important. See photos below.
Black Male Development Symposium, Glenside, Pa.
More than 1,000 young men -- and some young women -- gathered at Arcadia University on May 12, 2012, for the Black Male Development Symposium. Thou Shalt Not Steal was one of several books chosen to be given away to the participants. This year's theme: "Reclaiming Our S.W.A.G. (Soulful Wisdom And Genius -- A Life Guide Symposium for African-American Males." The workshops presented "practical strategies, techniques and solutions" to show young black men how to "present themselves to the world and how they can best handle situations with intelligence, style, and and grace," organizers said. Too often in our society, organizers said, "young black men are regularly portrayed in a negative way."
Black History & Culture Showcase, Philadelphia, Pa.
On Saturday and Sunday, April 7 and 8, 2012, Al participated in the Black History & Culture Showcase at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. This educational and informative annual event included displays about black inventors, slavery, and blacks in the military (including members of the Tuskegee Airmen, Montford Point Marines, World War II Black Navy Veterans, a Buffalo Soldier, and the 3rd Regiment United States Colored Troops reenactors). Also on hand were representatives from black institutions and causes, including the effort to have the image of basketball great Wilt Chamberlain placed on a U.S. postage stamp. Bernard A. Chavis, author of The Games of Tennis: An African American Journey; Breaking Racial and Cultural Barriers in Tennis and ... Society, was among the authors who attended.
African American Children's Book Fair/First African Baptist Church of Darby Township
On Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, Al participated in the African American Children's Book Fair held at Community College of Philadelphia. And on Sunday, Feb. 5, Al was at Bill's church, First African Baptist Church of Darby Township. The church members were warm and welcoming. After participating in an uplifting service led by the Rev. Dr. Pastor Richard A. Dent, Al autographed copies of Thou Shalt Not Steal for the church members. Bill was a church deacon and one of First African's most beloved members.