Recognizing Negro League Player Melvin Duncan

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By Fanna Haile-Selassie
By Jared Roberts

MARION -- The Miners welcomed a special guest to throw out the first pitch Friday.

Melvin Duncan, 85, is a veteran and former Negro League baseball player.

America's past time took him all around the world. So, there are a lot of memories in his old scrapbook, but the back corners of Duncan's memory hold even more. 

He had a pretty good right arm when he pitched for the Negro League in the 1950's. Duncan played with a laundry list of African American ball players who have filled the history books.
 
"Satchel Page, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays," lists Melvin.
 
But if you ask him who's the toughest player he's faced, he'll tell you Eddie Feigner and his King's Court.
 
"He had a four-man softball team, four men only," Duncan remembered, " And it didn't make any difference because you wouldn't hit anything anyway." 
 
Besides spending four years with the Kansas City Monarchs, Duncan also played for the Detroit Stars, as well as teams in Cuba, Mexico, Canada and Venezuela.
 
"Everything was different from the United States. The reason it was different was because you were used to segregation and these countries didn't have segregation," he told News 3.
 
Duncan also got paid a lot better, too. He increased his $350 paycheck from the Monarchs to nearly $1300 when he played for Venezuela.
 
"They accepted you as a person," he pointed out.
 
Now at 85 years old, Duncan sticks to just public appearances. But he admitted he was a little nervous to throw out the first pitch at the Miners' game Friday night.
 
"It is going to be different," he joked, "'Cause I'll probably kick it up there."
 
In the end, Duncan thought it best to just walk the ball up to the catcher. But on very special occasions, he will play catch if you ask nicely.
 
Duncan lives in Centralia. The folks at the Marion VA found out about him during one of his visits and thought it would be fun to recognize him at a game.
 
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