Celebrate Juneteenth at Big Train: A series of events celebrating the history of Black baseball

by Michael Michaud

On the Juneteenth national holiday on Monday June 19, the Big Train is offering a full slate of activities to help you celebrate and learn more about the rich history of Black baseball in the nation and here at home. In the second half of the 19th century, when four of every ten Montgomery County residents were Black, formerly enslaved people founded more than three dozen communities throughout the county. Along with churches and schools, baseball was the center of civic life in these communities during the 1940s through the 1960s. Communities from Emory Grove to Lyttonsville and Scotland to Sandy Spring organized sandlot teams.

At 11:30 a.m. on Monday, the American Film Institute will be showing “The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings” at the Silver Theatre in Silver Spring. After the movie, 13 year MLB star and Emory Grove native Milt Thompson will join historian Billy Gordon, and Big Train founder Bruce Adams to reflect on the movie and share stories about Montgomery’sBlack Sandlots. 

  • Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD 20910. 
  • County parking garages nearby. 
  • Tickets

At 3 p.m. The Scotland Juneteenth Festival presents a panel discussion with Thompson, Gordon, and Adams discussing the history of “Montgomery’s Black Sandlots" at the Cabin John Village Shopping Center in Potomac near Povich Field. 

  • The session will be held in Suite A (between Giant Food and CVS), 7937 Tuckerman Lane, Potomac. 
  • Plenty of parking at the shopping center. 
  • Free admission.

At 4 p.m., as part of the Juneteenth Festival, Big Train Baseball is organizing a youth baseball clinic at Field #2 (the youth field right next to Povich Field) with the goal of getting more youth of color interested in baseball. Milt Thompson and former Big Train player Logan Farrar will lead the clinic. Participants are asked to email bruce@greaterwash.orgto register to participate. 

  • Cabin John Regional Park, 10600 Westlake Drive, Rockville, MD 20852. 
  • Free admission.

At 6 p.m., gates will open at Shirley Povich Field for the Second Annual Clarence “Pint” Isreal Juneteenth Classic. Big Train players will be wearing Eagles jerseys to honor the 1954 Scotland Eagles from Montgomery’s Black Sandlots. The Hubert V. Simmons Museum of Negro League Baseball will have memorabilia on display. First 350 fans will receive t-shirt replicas of the Eagles jersey. Pre-game ceremony at 6:30 p.m. with a 7 p.m. Ripken League game between the Big Train and the Gaithersburg Giants. 

  • Shirley Povich Field, 10600 Westlake Drive, Rockville, MD 20852. 
  • Tickets.