NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Back in December, Major League Baseball made a huge announcement. It would now include baseball statistics from the more than 3,000 players from the Negro League. Those players who were not allowed to play professional baseball because of the color of their skin, would now be recognized as a part of baseball's history. Making it a "Whole New Ballgame" for one Nashville woman.
Just one look at the memorabilia decorating Harriett Kimbro Hamilton's home and you know baseball runs through her veins. When she thinks of the sport one person always comes to mind.
"I think about my dad.” Hamilton said. “I grew up around baseball and he's really the one who taught my brother how to play baseball."
While Hamilton's dad was a coach to his children, she later learned in high school that her dad was much more.
"One day Butch McCord who played with my father said, did you know your father was a heck of a baseball player? And I said, who are you talking about? And he said, your father was a professional baseball player. And he was very good."
Henry Kimbro was a star of the Negro League, playing for the Baltimore and Washington E-lite Giants and the New York Black Yankees from 1937 to 1948.
"My father had a lifetime batting average of .311. And when I look at the stats and I look at Major League Baseball, he's in the top 10 percent." Hamilton added.
That batting average is the same career batting average of Jackie Robinson. The former Negro League player who was the first African American to play Major League Baseball. Kimbro played against Robinson in 1945. And 2 years later, Robinson broke the color barrier. Hamilton said it was a special moment for her father.
"He was very proud. They were all proud of Jackie and watching Jackie go through what he went through. They knew it was a heavy burden for him.” Hamilton remembered. “And a lot of them say that they could not have done what Jackie did. Jackie wasn't the best in terms of athletic ability. But he was the best person to do the job."
Major League Baseball has decided to "right the wrongs" from the past by recognizing the statistics from the Negro Leagues. Meaning, all of the blood, sweat and cheers these players received while being banned from the Major Leagues will now be a part of the league's history. And hopefully for some of the players, a chance at the Hall of Fame. Hamilton’s father had 10 consecutive seasons of batting over .300 which would put him among the elite in all of baseball.
"It will and I'm happy for him and some of the others because again, Henry Kimbro who is he? And maybe the future generation will know Henry Kimbro especially our youth here in Nashville." Hamilton said.
Henry Kimbro was on the Hall of Fame ballot back in 2006 but did not make the cut. Hamilton is hopeful that the new stats will help restart the Hall of Fame conversation for her father. She believes her father, as well as some of the other lesser known Negro league players have earned that recognition.