BIO Page Hubert Simmons
Born in 1924, Hubert "Bert" Simmons was known to many now-middle-aged adults throughout the Baltimore area as a teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools for 30 years. Many others knew him as a little league or high school baseball coach. See Hubert Simmons on Wikipedia for the many extensive links.
Few individuals knew that the tall, distinguished, and humble Simmons spent his young adult years playing baseball with some of the best players in the Negro Leagues. After graduating from high school in 1941, Bert Simmons joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) which started as a jobs creation program under President Roosevelt. That same year he relocated to Raleigh, N.C. with the CCC and began playing semi-pro baseball as a pitcher and outfielder for the Raleigh Tigers from 1941-1942.
Throughout the years that followed, Bert Simmons continued playing baseball even while serving in the U.S. Army and later while attending college at North Carolina A&T. In addition to the Raleigh Tigers, Simmons played for the Greensboro Red Wings (1946-1948); the Ashville Blues (1949); and finally the Baltimore Elite Giants (1950). Simmons could play all nine positions in baseball, however, it was as a pitcher that he established a reputation for his "knuckleball."
Over his years spent playing and coaching the game, Simmons collected many remnants of the by-gone era of segregated baseball and created a museum in the basement of his home.
In 2008 when each Major League Baseball team drafted one former Negro League Baseball Player to represent the many thousands of others who never played in the Major Leagues, the Baltimore Orioles selected 84-year-old Simmons.
On June 28, 2008, Hubert V. "Bert" Simmons (now deceased), along with his wife Audrey L. Simmons, and good friend, Rayner "Ray" Banks gathered a group of relatives, friends, and acquaintances to meet and discuss plans for the development of a Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The timing was perfect as there was a rise in interest surrounding the Negro Leagues and its ball players. Many of the players who were once considered "the greatest" of their time, had already passed and few remained. As a former Negro Leagues baseball player himself, Bert refused to face the possibility of losing such an important legacy in the history of our nation and thus, plans were underway to establish a museum.
By September 2008, the Museum had become incorporated in the State of Maryland and was recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit, charitable, 501(c)(3) corporation. Next on the agenda was to locate a proper site for the Museum, in Baltimore County. Then, bring the idea to fruition with people committed to being founding members. The Simmons' pastor and members of their congregation, the Lochearn Presbyterian Church, blessed them with space in the annex to the church.
There was a soft Grand Opening, September 26, 2009, to announce the existence of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum of Maryland, Inc. (NLBMM) as it became known. Fast forward through years of developing in-kind business partnerships, gaining volunteers, creating an advisory board, increasing number of traveling exhibits, conducting Youth Summer Camp, and two annual fund-raisers. November 20, 2013, the Baltimore County Executive, Kevin Kamenetz, announced the permanent location for the Museum at the new Owings Mills Metro Centre Complex. The space would be appropriately shared with the Owings Mills Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library and the Community College of Baltimore County with the anticipation of having a grand opening in the Spring of 2014.
The museum's name was changed in honor of it's name sake to, Hubert V. Simmons Museum of Negro Leagues Baseball, Inc. The SMNLB intends to administer projects designed to educate, advocate, and generate wide-spread interest surrounding the Negro Leagues, and create an awareness of the cultural, social, and economical impact they made. This is being accomplished by collecting, preserving, and displaying collectibles, photos, books, interviews, oral history, artifacts, and memorabilia that tell their story from the 1800's to the 50's. Additionally, our various programs have a high focus on youth to the principles of good sportsmanship & content of character which carried many of the veteran players to the national leagues and beyond. Perhaps they too shall one day leave a legacy that will foster community, conversation, and "a love for the game."
You are encouraged to join the efforts of those who work towards this end.
See Hubert Simmons on Wikipedia for extensive links.