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Ted 'Double Duty' Radcliffe, Baseball Star

ED GORDON, host:

On Chicago's South Side today, mourners are saying their final goodbyes to Negro baseball legend Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe. NPR's Allison Keyes offers this tribute.

ALLISON KEYES reporting:

Radcliffe's great-niece, Debra Richards, stood proudly on the field Tuesday as the Chicago White Sox played a video tribute to her great uncle.

Ms. DEBRA RICHARDS (Ted Radcliffe's Great-Niece): Oh, gosh, it was so touching. Oh, my whole family was in tears.

KEYES: The Negro Leagues used to hold their annual All-Star Games at Chicago's Comiskey Park, and Radcliffe was close to the White Sox. The team asked fans to observe a moment of silence to the man who lost a long battle with cancer last week. Richards says even though he was a hundred and three, he never thought of himself as old.

Ms. RICHARDS: Every single person was totally shocked that he was over a hundred because he did not look it, and he didn't act it. How you feel about yourself must really play an important part in life.

KEYES: Richards says the man the family called Duty never let up.

Ms. RICHARDS: He loved baseball, you know, and he loved looking at the women and talking to the people. I mean, he really, truly enjoyed his life.

KEYES: Double Duty Radcliffe played for or coached 30 teams during his storied career. He earned his nickname with his amazing abilities as a pitcher and catcher. Radcliffe was the first African-American man to manage white players. He also won 500 games, amassed an estimated 4,000 hits and strikeouts, and 40 home runs. Richards says Duty and his contemporaries made the game exciting.

Ms. RICHARDS: They came first and they kept blacks interested in sports. They kept the game of baseball alive, not just for blacks but for whites as well.

KEYES: Richards says she expects Negro League players from across the country to attend today's services. Allison Keyes, NPR News.

GORDON: Thanks for joining us. That's our program for today. To listen to the show, visit npr.org. If you'd like to comment, log on to npr.org and click on `contact us.' Or give us a call at (202) 408-3330. NEWS & NOTES was created by NPR News and the African-American Public Radio Consortium.

I'm Ed Gordon. This is NEWS & NOTES. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Allison Keyes is an award-winning journalist with almost 20 years of experience in print, radio, and television. She has been reporting for NPR's national desk since October 2005. Her reports can be heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition Sunday.