The dedication of the grave marker for Wesley Barrow could have been called as a rain-out.
The tribute went on, however, for the Negro League baseball legend, who died on Christmas Eve 1965 and was interred with no grave marker at New Hope Baptist Church Cemetery in Gretna.
After achieving renown as a catcher with teams in Gretna; New Orleans; Galveston, Texas; and Cleveland, Barrow mentored and influenced hundreds, if not thousands, of New Orleans-area youth as a manager, beginning with the Black Pelicans in 1945.
Clutching wind-blown umbrellas and standing in puddles, Gretna officials and former players held a brief ceremony April 25 dedicating a new grave marker for Barrow’s burial spot. Money for the marker was raised through a community effort led by Gretna City Councilman Milton Crosby, who played for Barrow on the Black Pelicans, and local journalist and researcher Ryan Whirty.
Also attending the ceremony was Rodney Page, the son of former Negro Leagues promoter and owner Allen Page. Rodney Page donated several hundred dollars toward the burial marker, and at the event Saturday, he spoke of his own memories of playing for Barrow as a youth.
Page told of throwing out a player at home on the fly from the outfield and taking pride in what he thought was a stellar play. However, Barrow chastised him for choosing not to relay the ball, barking, “Little Page! Hit the cutoff man!”
Another attendee at Saturday’s ceremony was another ex-Black Pelican who played under Barrow, nonagenarian Paul Lewis, of LaPlace, who told the group that for Barrow, the most important trait of managing was being a good mentor and role model, lessons Lewis said he took to heart.
Also among the group gathered Saturday was former Major Leaguer and World Series champion Ron Swoboda, who now works as the New Orleans Zephyrs’ color commentator. Swoboda spoke of his encounters with former Negro Leaguers and how important the all-black teams and leagues were prior to and just after the advent of integration begun by Jackie Robinson.
Finally, longtime sportscaster Ro Brown, who works in the athletic department at UNO, spoke of Barrow’s importance to the community and the impact he and other Negro League figures had on youth in the New Orleans area.
Jefferson Parish officials will break ground on a new West Bank animal shelter at 2 p.m. Friday. The 32,000-square-foot facility will be at Lapalco Boulevard and Peters Road in Harvey.
Designed by architects Burgdahl and Graves with the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the University of California at Davis, California, the state-of-the-art shelter will be built by Gibbs Construction Company at an estimated cost of $9.5 million.
Funding is provided by district funds and construction bond issues. Completion should take just over a year.
Genealogical group to meet
The Jefferson Genealogical Society will hold its monthly meeting on Thursday at 7 p.m. at John Calvin Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 4201 Transcontinental Drive, Metairie.
Casey Stuart, a local historian and expert on preservation, will present a program entitled “Lost New Orleans: Below Canal Street.” Stuart will show photos of buildings that no longer exist below Canal Street in the French Quarter, Marigny, Bywater and other neighborhoods. Stuart is president of the Louisiana Landmarks Society and Second Vice President of the Genealogical Research Society of New Orleans.
For more information, call Fred Wilbert at (504) 837-2034.
Civil war group to meet
The New Orleans Civil War Roundtable will meet on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Smilie’s Restaurant, 5125 Jefferson Highway, Harahan.
The guest speaker will be Nora Titone who will talk about her book, “My Thoughts Be Bloody — the Bitter Rivalry that Led to the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln.”
For more information, call (504) 456-1420.
Items needed for women, kids
Now until the end of this month, Christ the King Lutheran Church, 1001 West Esplanade Ave. in Kenner will be collecting items for the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children. Items needed include comforters, blankets, sheet sets (full and twin), hair brushes, shampoo, conditioner and body wash.
To donate and for more information, call Barbara Cozic at (504) 305-4437 or Jody DuSang at (504) 888-0027.
Eva Jacob Barkoff writes about the people and events in Jefferson Parish. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (504) 430-8053.