MLB plans ceremonial Negro League draft for June

NEW YORK -- Country singer Charley Pride and Millito Navarro, at 102 believed to be the oldest living professional baseball player, were among the former Negro Leaguers invited to attend a ceremonial draft next month.

The event will take place June 6 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., before Major League Baseball holds its annual amateur draft.

"We are pleased to take this opportunity to recognize this proud part of our game's past," MLB executive vice president Jimmie Lee Solomon said Friday. "Those who participated in the Negro Leagues helped pave the way."

The 70-year-old Pride, a Grammy Award-winning singer, pitched for the Memphis Red Sox and the Birmingham Black Barons in the 1950s. He struck out 12 for a Negro Leagues All-Star team in 1956 against a group of big league black players that included Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Ernie Banks.

Pride tried out Los Angeles Angels in 1961 and went to training camp with the New York Mets and the Milwaukee Brewers. He was 1-for-2 against Jim Palmer for Texas as a "designated pinch hitter" in a spring training game.

Navarro was the shortstop and leadoff hitter for the Cuban Stars of the Eastern Colored League in 1928 and hit .337 the following year. He was elected to the Puerto Rico Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Puerto Rican Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.

All the invited players already have been matched up with teams. They are:

Arizona, Bob Mitchell; Atlanta, James "Red" Moore; Baltimore, Bert Simmons; Boston, Jim Colzie; Chicago Cubs, Walt Owens; Chicago White Sox, Hank Presswood; Cincinnati, Charlie Davis; Cleveland, Otha "Li'l Catch" Bailey; Colorado, Mack "Mack the Knife" Pride Jr.; Detroit, Cecil Kaiser; Florida, Enrique Maroto; Houston, Bill Blair; Kansas City, Ulysses Hollimon; Los Angeles Angels, Neale "Bobo" Henderson; Los Angeles Dodgers, Andrew Porter; Milwaukee, Joseph B. Scott; Minnesota, Bill "Lefty" Bell; New York Mets, Robert Scott; New York Yankees, Emilio "Millito" Navarro; Oakland, Irvin Castille; Philadelphia, Mahlon Duckett; Pittsburgh, James Tillman; St. Louis, "Prince" Joe Henry; San Diego, Walter McCoy; San Francisco, Carlos Manuel Santiago; Seattle, John "Mule" Miles; Tampa Bay, Walter Lee Gibbons; Texas, Charley Pride; Toronto, Harold Gould; Washington, Mamie "Peanut" Johnson