Elizabethton High School baseball team to don replicas of Tri-Cities’ only Semi-Pro Negro Baseball team

Local sports

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Elizabethton High School (EHS) baseball team is set to sport a throwback uniform in the diamond this upcoming season.

The Cyclones at some games will don replicas of the Elizabethton Blue Grays uniforms, the Tri-Cities’ only Semi-Pro Negro Baseball team.

The Elizabethton Blue Grays played from 1935 to 1955 and consisted of players from Elizabethton, Kingsport, Bristol, Greeneville, other parts of Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky.

The founder and director of the Cedar Grove Foundation, Inc., Elizabethton’s only Black historical organization, Jacey Augustus, said that the foundation is dedicated to upkeeping lost history of the area.

According to Augustus, the Elizabethton Blue Grays would travel to games during the night to avoid racial problems, accepting invitations from church members to stay in their homes.

Augustus said that the Blue Gray’s love for the game overpowered any threat of the ongoing racial segregation at the time.

News Channel 11 spoke with EHS baseball coach Ryan Presnell, who said the opportunity for his team to wear the replica uniforms is priceless.

“It just — it’s so hard to think there was a time where people of certain colors couldn’t play baseball together, and it really plucks at my heartstrings to think about that,” Presnell said. “I think it’d be so awesome if they could see these guys at Elizabethton High School wearing their uniform.

“I think it’d be very special, and I hope it’s special for the family members who are surviving that will get to see it.”

The Cedar Grove Foundation, Inc. dedicated a memorabilia display to honor the team to Elizabethton High School and Elizabethton City School Board of Education. This was also possible with the help from the last two remaining Elizabethton Blue Grays players James “Chick” Forney and Columbus “Ted” Hartsaw.

The EHS baseball team will dedicate the April 12 game to the Blue Grays and wear the replica uniforms.

According to a press release, the team hopes to have several relatives of the Blue Grays players at the game to throw the first pitch.

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