By Dana Albon
POUGHKEEPSIE - On Sunday January 20, 2013, the Poughkeepsie Public Library held its third installment of the Pride and Passion: the African American Baseball Experience. "Baseball in Black and White: Black Barnstorming in the Hudson Valley" shared the rich local history of early barnstorming with a wide range of artifacts.
Walter Patrice, local Black baseball legend, shared his experiences in baseball starting in the 1930s. "I started playing organized baseball in 1936 with two other African Americans and two Caucasian gentlemen," explained Patrice. He started off playing the "Short Game" in which anything over the fence is automatically three outs, but went on to play American Legion Baseball in 1937. The purpose of American Legion Baseball was to develop skills, leadership qualities, and have fun. Patrice did just that and continued to play locally.
Playing center field for the Mohawks, Millbrook Colored Giants, and the Poughkeepsie Elks, Patrice barnstormed locally through the 1940s. As a Black baseball player during the Jim Crow Era he experienced issues while traveling. "Finding a rest stop that would let us use their facilities was difficult sometimes, but we just hung in there," explained Patrice. With his enthusiasm for the game, Patrice remained active in the baseball community into his fifties.
Artifacts from early Black and white barnstorming teams such as the House of David, Mohawks, the Poughkeepsie Chiefs, and the Cuban Giants were on display during the lecture for the public to view and enjoy.