Meet the Players :: Jake Sanders

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Name: James (Jake) Sanders
DOB: August 31, 1934
Birthplace: Fairfield, Alabama
New Orleans / Detroit Stars 1956
Kansas City Monarchs 1957 - '58

Position: outfield Bats: left Throws: right

James was one of twelve children born to Mary and Dobie Sanders in Fairfield, Alabama in 1934. Raising the children was far more than a full time job for his mom. She gave them the very best that she could, helping them understand life's basics. Jake's dad worked for United States Steel and also as a barber. He enjoyed fishing and hunting and taught his children to enjoy them the same. Although he had no more than a fourth grade education, Mr. Sanders knew a little about everything. Each of the Sander's children all had duties and responsibilities around the home and were expected to keep up with them. Jake's enjoyed his family life. His cousin Ernest was his best friend growing up. He looked after Jake.

Jake took on a special interest for the game of baseball on the side lot of Englewood Elementary School. He and his friends would gather to play baseball with a broomstick and a tennis ball (sometimes they played had to play with just a rock). By the time he attended Fairfield Industrial High School, Jake had big baseball dreams. His favorite baseball player had attended his high school several years earlier, played for the local Birmingham Black Barons, and made it to the major leagues New York Giants where he was named the leagues rookie of the year in 1951. Jakes favorite player was Willie Mays.

After high school, James Sanders worked his way through a vast number of baseball line-ups to secure his spot in the outfield of the Detroit / New Orleans Stars in 1956. He had a very successful year at the plate hitting .340 at seasons end. In his East-West game appearance at Comiskey Park, Jake stroked a triple and scored a run. He believed this to be a very special moment quite possibly the highlight of his career. He was signed to the Dodgers farm system for $300.00 a month in 1957. He later returned to the Negro Leagues Kansas City Monarchs line-up and remained there through the '58 season. Base runners feared Jake's arm when he was in the field, and fielders respected his speed when he was on the base paths. He had a gift for stealing bases.

Jake remembers the days in which he played. There were times when there was little or no food, long nights of sleep on the bus, sometimes long days broken down on the bus. There were double headers, triple headers, instances of racism and discrimination and mismanagement of monies. Jake remembers the days in which he played "these days were difficult but they were fun."

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