Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hank Presswood is honored with Topps baseball card

Former Negro League shortstop Hank "Baby" Presswood has finally received his first official baseball card 62 years after his debut. Presswood played with the Cleveland Buckeyes and Kansas City Monarchs between 1948 and 1952. He was honored with a card in the 2010 Topps Allen and Ginter set. This honor has been part of an ongoing attempt since 2007 by Topps to recognize the living Negro League greats that did not have the opportunity to be featured during their playing careers.

In a July 2010 phone interview with Presswood, he remarked about his "rookie" card at the age of 88. "I was really grateful for it. It was really nice man. They even have when I played softball on that card. They had everything about my ballplaying." The set, which is popular with collectors, has kept Presswood busy answering his mail. "I get a pile of letters every day! Sometimes I can get them right in the mail, other days, it takes a day or so. I'm enjoying it. I'm proud that people are interested."

The increased popularity of the Negro Leagues has allowed Presswood to experience the adulation of the younger generation. He had just returned from giving an apperance at a local high school when we caught up on the phone. "We get invited to these things. We were at Stevenson on the North Side today. I just got back from there. Seeing the kids is the best thing that ever happened. I feel really proud when we talk to the kids. It's really exciting. They get a big bang out of us being there. We're gone all the time, at different places and ball games."

While Presswood has outlived most of his peers, his nickname "Baby" still sticks. He explained how the legendary Buck O'Neil bestowed the youthful moniker upon him. "I played two years with the Monarchs. That's when I got my nickname. Buck O'Neil called me "Baby". Everyone calls me now Hank "Baby" Presswood and I'm two years younger than Santa Claus! He was the greatest. He was a good ballplayer himself. He was something else. When he passed, that really hurt because he was like a father to me."

Presswood continues to have the passion for the game of a wide eyed youngster, even after being far removed from his playing days. "I'll tell you what, I just love the game. When the Cubs and the White Sox are playing, I don't care what I have to do, I finish what I have to do, get my seat and watch the game."
 

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