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Frost Illustrated (Newspaper) - May 8, 2002, Fort Wayne, Indiana Arts & Entertainment ROBERT * RANDOLPH i ... !V, .>( Randolph takes if . > * listeners to church 7,/lf / See page 11 See pages 6, 7 & 24 FROST ILLUSTRATED Community pays homage to former greats fly Robbin L. Melton and Larry L. Stephens Scores of baseball fans turned out May 4 to watch the Fort Wayne Wizards play the Burlington Bees, but it was not the typical Wizards home game. This particular game featured former Kansas City Monarchs and Memphis Red Sox first baseman John "Buck" or "Nancy" O'Neil as part of the local Negro Leagues Day community celebration. O'Neil, who also is the spokesperson for the Negro Leagues Museum, Kansas City, Mo., is anticipated to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for his athletic accomplishments -which include - playing on nine championship teams, playing in three all-star and two Negro Leagues World Series games, and holding the national Negro Leagues batting title baseman, O'Neil-who was fea- Photo by James Redmond tured on Ken Burns' PBS baseball Negro Leagues Baseball legend Buck O'Neil (right) fields a question from admiring fans as the Rev. documentary-went on to manage Gregory Guice of Christ Unity Church stands alongside. O'Neil was in town Saturday as part of the Fort fiye all-star games and the Kansas Wayne Wizards' special Negro Leagues commemoration. A number of community organizations, City Monarchs, who under his including the Fort Wayne Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and the African/African American leadership, won five pennants and Historical Society helped support the effort. two Negro Leagues World Series games. O'Neil also became the first African American to coach a major league baseball team. Prior to coaching for the Chicago Cubs, he served as the team's scout and helped Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Lou Brock acquire their first professional baseball contracts. * Wearing his No. 42 Kansas City Monarchs uniform, O'Neil insisted on getting a quick bite from McDonald's before opening the May 4 Wizards home game against the Burlington Bees. Good thing, because immediately after that, O'Neil spent the remainder of the afternoon signing Negro Leagues and Wizards memorabilia, and meeting and greeting fans and baseball players. Some lucky children ,even got,< to catch, a pitch tossed by the 90-year-6Id leaguer. The famed player also shared stories with fans. For example, when asked about a particularly memorable game in his career, After giving up his post as a first O'Neil told the story of how one Easter weekend, he got a single, double and home run in one game. His next time at bat, he hit a long drive that bounced off the outfield wall that momentarily beguiled the outfielders allowing O'Neil to (See "Negro Leagues" on page 20) HUD head lauds Liberty Square despite mixed reviews from neighborhood By Robbin L. Melton Thirteen new modest-sized, pastel-colored houses might look out of place compared to a majority of deteriorating and vacant houses on and around Liberty Street, but the new Liberty Square development scored big with Mel Martinez, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) who toured that area last week. According to Martinez, Liberty Square exemplifies urban revital-ization at its height. By collaborating with private and public sectors, the Fort Wayne Neighborhood Housing Partnership (FWNHP) was able to develop the $1.5 million housing project which is anticipated to help regenerate the neighborhood. "Commitment to community will help transform this neighborhood and turn it around," he said. "People are dying for this. We need to see the glass as half full, not half empty." That might be hard to do given that six of the pretty houses, valued between $93,000 and $105;000, sit right in front of an active train track. Potential buyers might also be turned off by the condition of surrounding houses that are still occupied. When questioned about the latter, Martinez responded that current Liberty Street-area homeowners will be motivated to fix up their own houses to make them as attractive as the new constructs, but some people point out that many of those residents are on fixed incomes and cannot afford such repairs and renovations. In fact, their homes have an average market value of less than $30,000. "We're looking for improvements and we want to fix up our neighborhood," said Bonnie Andrews, East Central Neighborhood Association's former president. "We support anything that improves our neighborhood, but..." Andrews declined to discuss Liberty Square further, but added that she will be watching and waiting for subsequent improvements in her area just like she did with last year's proposed University Park Redevelopment -m-....... ________ plan. Photo by Robbin L. Melton Liberty Square supporters, Housing and.Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez (left) and 3rd District Congressman Mark however, are enthusiastic that a Souder (right) listen as Fort Wayne Mayor Graham Richard extols the virtues of the Liberty Square (See "Liberty Square" on page 2) development In the city's East Central neighborhood.
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