The Chicago Tribune
Sherwood Brewer, 79, of Chicago, an All-Star second
baseman in the Negro Leagues, founded a fellowship organization that
worked to make sure history remembered the players and they remembered
Mr. Brewer died Wednesday, April 23, in his Chicago home.
He helped demonstrate fielding fundamentals to
Jackie Robinson and Ernie Banks, his teammates on the Kansas City
An Army veteran of World War II and the Korean War, Mr.
Brewer was raised in Downstate Centralia by an aunt and uncle after his
father died when he was 11 months old. He credited his uncle with sparking
his love for baseball and said his break came after he played baseball
with his military unit while stationed in Guam.
"I guess someone
saw me. When I got out of service and back home, I had a lot of letters
from different ball clubs," Mr. Brewer told the Chicago Sun-Times in
Mr. Brewer briefly managed the Monarchs and played on two
other teams, the New York Cubans and the Indianapolis Clowns, in the 1940s
and 1950s. The Negro Leagues existed in various forms from 1920 until
"Players like Jackie Robinson and Ernie Banks learned the
game from their teammates in the Negro League, and Mr. Brewer was one of
those guys," said Dennis Biddle, president of Yesterday's Negro League
Baseball Players Foundation, which Mr. Brewer founded in
Banks has said in interviews that when he was homesick on a
road trip with the Monarchs, Mr. Brewer made him feel better and helped
keep him in the game.
"My brother was always proud of being a part
of the league," said his sister, Geanette Coleman. "He talked about it all
the time. He said it was hard at first to be recognized for who they were
as players because there weren't a lot of people coming to watch the games
of the black players. But he always spoke highly of everyone and said he
was treated fairly by the fans."
Mr. Brewer also helped keep the
memory of the Negro Leagues alive after he left baseball.
he's mainly known for is pulling the guys together after the Negro League
folded," Biddle said.
A pitcher for the Chicago American Giants in
1953 and 1954, Biddle went to spring training with the Cubs in 1955, but a
broken leg ended his career.
He said 180 former Negro Leagues
players are alive, and most are members of the foundation Mr. Brewer
Mr. Brewer also worked at a bakery at the University of
Illinois at Chicago until his retirement in 1988.
include sons Sherwood, Dwayne and Kevin; sisters Dorothy Benjamin and
Hattie Leggs; a brother, Johnny Daniel; five grandchildren and one
Services have been