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"Ask a Negro Leaguer" Coming Out in Book Form

Readers of the long-running “Ask a Negro Leaguer” column in the Riverfront Times will soon be able to crack open a recently published memoir by Prince Joe Henry called Princoirs.

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Joe Henry
The Decider long before W. declared himself so, the 79-year-old Brooklyn, Illinois resident and ex-baseball player in the Negro Leagues never had a problem fielding questions of all kinds.

When Cleavon Little from Squaw Tit, New Mexico asked: "Hey Joe: Where all de white women at? " Joe would say: "Even Mortimer Snerd wouldn't have submitted such a question. Regarding "de white women," my answer is: "Damned if I know!!"

When Joe from St. Louis asked: "Hey Joe: You say you don't really care about baseball anymore. Why's that?"

Joe's lengthy response started with the terse declaration: "Baseball was never my thing -- not ever after becoming a member of the Memphis Red Sox in the Negro Leagues. I played it because the Negro Leagues gave me the opportunity to travel far and wide throughout America."

Over a three-year period, Sean R. Muhammad, Joe Henry’s grandson, compiled columns, letters, interviews and short stories written about Henry in the RFT for the 246-page book.

Henry played four full seasons, and parts of eight, in the Negro Leagues. Injuries eventually caused him to retire, although golfing into the sunset in a land of palm trees was not in the cards for this professional athlete.

Henry originally contacted the RFT because he wanted to draw attention to the lack of compensation by Major League Baseball for himself and other players in the league.

In November 2007, Henry received a $40,000 pension from the league after a three-year battle. He is included in the program with other Negro League ball players.

"They did everything they could to find me ineligible," he said at the time.

Although the work is his, Henry said Muhammad approached him about the book “just a few months back.”

Henry said he didn’t read the book his grandson put together until “just last week.”

“I loved everything about it,” he said.

Opining on topics ranging from Michael Vick’s treatment of dogs to domestic infidelity, the ex-athlete says dipping into controversy became an occasional occurrence during the column’s run.

Lately, Henry is incensed about the political analysts who he thinks "feel that they are still analyzing white politics" when they talk about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

“In other words, don’t say these are her votes. It creates a schism. But they don’t realize that because they still think they are still analyzing an election between two white participants,” he observes.

Imagine the look on Wolf Blitzer's face!

But offering advice and opinions is more about being honest than stoking public discontent, he says.

“If somebody disliked me for being honest, I’m sorry, because you’re not going to change my mind. I’ll call a spade a spade, no matter what color. Writers tell the truth.”

To reserve a copy of Princoirs, go to myspace.com/princoirs.

- Matt Kasper


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