Bob Motley is the only living umpire of Negro League Baseball. A shot-calling legend, Motley is known for his splits, lunges and dramatic calls at the plate. It was Motley who made the game-time decisions with Satchel Paige, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks and Willie Mays on the field. Bob Motley was not only a Negro League pioneer, he was also a member of the honorable Montford Point Marines of WWII.
Motley was born in Autaugaville, Alabama near Selma, in 1923. The Ku Klux Klan was heavy in his town and there were frequent memories of their actions on the black townspeople. While working for a local hotel in the town of Anniston, Motley had his first acquaintances with baseball player of the minor leagues. He knew he would one day play baseball like the gentleman he admired as a young man.
On May 21, 1943, Motley enlisted in the U.S. Army. He would be among the first group of black Marines to serve; the Montford Point Marines. He was honorably discharged in 1946 after the war. Like many early black soldiers, Motley fought for his country on dangerous grounds then returned home to a place of bigotry and racism. Even though he served time with the decorated pioneering Montford Point Marines, he was still privy to the ‘whites only’ Jim Crow laws of the south.
When he joined the Negro Leagues as an umpire, Motley faced a different challenge; he would ride along with the players on away games, and was forced to answer to them on his calls in previous games. In one instance, Motley called a strikeout on Hank Bayliss of the Kansas City Monarchs. Bayliss was so upset, he started by cursing Motley, then bumping him and later refusing to retire to the lockers. That was followed by a later attempt by Bayliss to stab Motley with a knife on the bus.
Motley was a diehard fan of the game and despite any animosity expressed by players both black or white, he continued to umpire the Negro Leagues for 25 years. Though much of his memorabilia was discarded before he realized its worth, he kept a few baseballs with special dates and notes on them to remember the experience.
In 2012, Motley received the President’s Congressional Medal of Honor. As he looks to celebrate his 90th birthday this month, Motley reminds baseball fans about his release entitled “Ruling Over Monarchs, Giants & Stars: True Tales of Breaking Barriers, Umpiring Baseball Legends, and Wild Adventures in the Negro Leagues” with foreward by friend, Dionne Warwick.
Bob Motley currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Negro Baseball Leagues Museum in Kansas City, MO. He lives with Pearline, his wife of sixty years. His son, Byron Motley, has captured his father’s legacy in his television own documentary, The Negro Leagues: An American Legacy.
Watch video of Bob Motley recalling his time an a Negro League umpire below.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
1 of 30
2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
2 of 30
3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
3 of 30
4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
4 of 30
5. Jus haaaanngin out
5 of 30
6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
6 of 30
7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
7 of 30
8. new new
8 of 30
9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
9 of 30
10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
10 of 30
11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
11 of 30
12 of 30
13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
13 of 30
14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
14 of 30
15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
15 of 30
16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
16 of 30
17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
17 of 30
18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
18 of 30
19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
19 of 30
20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
20 of 30
21 of 30
22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
22 of 30
23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
23 of 30
24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
24 of 30
25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
25 of 30
26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
26 of 30
27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
27 of 30
28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
28 of 30
29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
29 of 30
30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
30 of 30