- Gary Gillette, ESPN.com MLB insider contributor
The Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this weekend will induct a large class of great black ballplayers from the pre-integration era. During baseball's segregation era, the best players who had skin that was considered too dark were forced to ply their trade in the famous major Negro leagues or on independent teams prior to the formation of the Negro National League in 1920.
Unfortunately, none of these stars is alive today, and very few people who saw them play are still with us. While their careers have been chronicled to a better extent now than ever before, their specific skills and style of play are largely fading from memory.
As a small tribute to these underappreciated stars of long ago, here are brief scouting reports on each of the 12 elected to the Hall as players. Most of the information and insight comes from the work of James A. Riley, an eminent scholar of black baseball and the Negro leagues and director of research for the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City. More details on the teams they played for and their notable accomplishments can be found on the Baseball Hall of Fame's web site.