On May 31st, 1942, in a segregated society, baseball strained the racial divide. Satchel Paige and the Homestead Grays of the Negro National League faced a team of all-white barnstorming All-Stars headed up by St. Louis Cardinals legend Dizzy Dean at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C..
Dean came out of retirement when the United States entered World War II, putting together a group of players to barnstorm ballparks all across the country. Paige and Dean had met before; just a week before, in fact, when Paige pitched against Dean’s All-Stars for the Kansas City Monarchs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, marking the first time a Negro League team played at Wrigley.
Mick Gillispie told the story of that day in the Nation’s Capital during the Smokies game with the Birmingham Barons on Saturday.