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Berry Tramel

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Bill Greason & Mark House: together again

by Berry Tramel Published: August 20, 2014
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Bill Greason (left) laughs with his former Birmingham Black Barons teammate, Willie Mays, on the occasion of Mays' 80th birthday in San Francisco in 2011. Greason, who broke Oklahoma City's baseball color barrier in 1952, turns 90 in September. (AP Photo)
Bill Greason (left) laughs with his former Birmingham Black Barons teammate, Willie Mays, on the occasion of Mays' 80th birthday in San Francisco in 2011. Greason, who broke Oklahoma City's baseball color barrier in 1952, turns 90 in September. (AP Photo)

Oklahoman Mark House and baseball pioneer Bill Greason have a unique relationship. Greason is the pitcher who broke the color barrier in Oklahoma City, with the 1952 Oklahoma City Indians. After his baseball career, Greason became a minister in Birmingham, Ala., where I interviewed him in 2007, resulting in this column.

House read the story, became intrigued by Greason’s career and worked to bring him to Oklahoma City. Which happened in 2012, where Greason was honored at a RedHawks game. You can read about that here and here.

But House’s relationship with Greason didn’t end there. They’re remained in contact, and now House is headed to Birmingham on Friday, when Greason will be honored by the American Negro League Association.

Greason, one of three players still alive from the Birmingham Black Barons’ Negro League championship team, will be feted at the association’s community initiative project HELP, at the Birmingham Sheraton.

At the banquet, a montage print of Greason by world-renowned artist Ronald Scott McDowell will be unveiled. You can view McDowell’s work on Greason here. Among the speakers at the banquet will be former Mets and White Sox manager Jerry Manuel.

And House will be on hand. His interest in history, and the story of a stranger from the dusty days of old-time Oklahoma City, has been inspiring. You can read Jenni Carlson’s 2012 column about House here. The Birmingham Times, a newspaper serving the black community, wrote about OKC’s honoring Greason while promoting the banquet Friday. House is singularly responsible for that.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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