ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) — It’s been nearly 70 years since the Elizabethton Blue Grays played ball, but Monday night, the Elizabethton High School (EHS) baseball team brought the uniforms back to the diamond.
The Cyclones launched the season honoring the Tri-Cities’ only semi-professional baseball team consisting of Black players from Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia by wearing replicas of their uniforms.
EHS baseball dedicated the first pitch of the season to the team who shared the same love for baseball in an era plagued by racial segregation and civil injustices.
News Channel 11 spoke with a relative of a Blue Grays coach, who said seeing a new generation of ball players don the uniforms was uplifting.
“My wife’s grandfather was the actual coach of the Blue Grays — Shorty Matron,” Stanley Cannon said. “That was fantastic that people are honoring the old Negro League teams.”
The Blue Grays spent two decades traveling to play ball, moving through the night to avoid racial issues and staying with those who opened their doors to the team of Black baseball semi-pros.
“The fact that players like that continued to play regardless of the situation,” Cannon said. “And look at what it’s come to now; look who’s playing — people of color. It’s just great to see it.”
Cannon said he hopes the uniforms can spark conversation among ball players and community members alike to reveal a big piece of Elizabethton history that some might not know about.