Most sports fans are familiar with the outstanding football and basketball programs at historically Black colleges and universities, but many baseball players from Black colleges have also gone on to the majors.
Springside Chestnut Hill infielder Jahli Hendricks will play at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which has one of the top Black college baseball programs in the nation. One of Hendricks’ favorite players growing up was former Southern University star Rickie Weeks, who played in the majors.
“I was a huge fan of Rickie Weeks,” Hendricks said. “I actually had his model glove in middle school. I had some sort of connection to Southern University. I’m familiar with the history.”
Weeks was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers, the second player taken overall in the 2003 draft. The second baseman played for the Brewers, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays over his career from 2003 to 2017. He finished his playing days with 161 home runs, 474 RBIs and a .246 batting average. He was named to the MLB All-Star team in 2011.
Lou Brock also played at Southern University. In 1959, Brock batted .545 and led Southern to the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics baseball championship.
In 1960, he was signed as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs. He played for the Cubs until 1964, when he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. Brock was a brilliant outfielder and stole 938 bases in his 19-year career — a Major League record that stood until 1991, when Rickey Henderson broke it.
A six-time All-Star, Brock completed his playing days with 3,023 hits, 900 RBIs and a .293 batting average. He helped the Cardinals win two World Series titles, in 1964 and 1967, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.
Andre Dawson was a big-time player coming out of Florida A&M. He was an 11th-round pick of the Montreal Expos in the 1975 free agent draft and was named Rookie of the Year in 1977.
Dawson played 21 years in the majors. He played for the Expos, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox and Florida Marlins.
He won eight Gold Gloves and played in eight All-Star games. He retired in 1996 with a career batting average of .279, 438 home runs, 2,774 hits and 1,591 RBIs. In 2010, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Marquis Grissom was another star at Florida A&M, leading the team to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship in 1988. He pitched and played in the outfield for the Rattlers and was named Player of the Year in the MEAC.
In 1988, the Expos picked Grissom in the third round of the free agent draft. He was a great centerfielder. Grissom played for the Expos, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants during his major league career from 1989 to 2005.
In 1995, Grissom led the Braves to the World Series championship. He played in two All-Star games, won four Gold Gloves and was an American League championship series MVP. He batted .272 with 227 home runs, 967 RBI and 426 stolen bases in his career.
Ralph Garr led the NAIA with a .585 batting average in 1967, powering Grambling State to a 35-1 record. His efforts earned him a third-round selection by the Atlanta Braves that year.
In 1974, Garr won the National League batting championship with a .353 average. He also played for the Chicago White Sox and California Angels in his career from 1968 to 1980.
He completed his playing days with a .306 batting average with 75 home runs and 408 RBIs. He also played in the 1974 MLB All-Star game.