WASHINGTON (AP) -Ray King was eager to attend a ceremony unveiling a new Negro Leagues exhibit. He wishes other players felt the same way.
``I think a lot of the younger players don't realize exactly what these guys went through,'' the Washington Nationals reliever said.
Representatives from the Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates helped launch an exhibit honoring Hall of Fame slugger Josh Gibson, one of the greatest power hitters ever.
Gibson's great-grandson, Sean Gibson, and one of the former player's teammates, James Tillman, were on hand Wednesday for a look at the jerseys, photos and other memorabilia that will be on display this month at the Mayflower hotel.
Gibson played for the Pittsburgh Crawfords (1930-1937) and the Homestead Grays (1937-1946), who played home games in both Pittsburgh and Washington.
Legends tell of Gibson hitting remarkable tape-measure shots and perhaps more than 900 home runs before his death in 1947 at age 35 - just months before Jackie Robinson began the integration of major league baseball.
Gibson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.
``Josh Gibson's second home is D.C.,'' Sean Gibson said. ``He hit a lot of home runs in D.C. We want to bring the history of the Negro Leagues to the D.C. area.''
King sat for a long time chatting with Tillman, who recalled Gibson saying a how a hitter can tell if a hit will be a home run by ``the feel of the bat.'' King said he owns a collection of Negro League jerseys, and he rued that many of today's major leaguers aren't fully aware of the game's rich history.
``It really bugs me right now,'' King said. ``If you go into some of the major league clubhouses now and ask who Curt Flood was, I guarantee you 70 percent wouldn't know.''
Nationals outfielder Nook Logan confessed that he knew little about the Negro Leagues until a few years ago.
``You hear about it, and then it's like, 'What's that got to do with me?''' Logan said. ``And then you get into professional ball and you start hearing more and more what they did, it makes you want to get into it and see how they started, and how they gave me an opportunity to be here.''
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