The Cornfield boys
By Douglas Quinn
Ray Ostler, age 91, sits in his rocking chair, waiting for the call from the Baseball Hall of Fame that will assure his place in history. While he waits, he tells his story to his great grandson, Gerald Handly; tells him about how he and his boyhood friend, Marvin Riddick, chased down balls hit past the outfield by players from the Sawyer-town A.M.E. Zion Church team; about finally being old enough to play for the team; about being discovered and receiving a contract to play for The Down-town Skippers of Norfolk, a poorly run barn-storming team owned by a white businessman; about how, after the team folded mid-season, he thought his career was over; about getting word that Malcolm Fullard, a Black man with roots in boot-legging and numbers, was forming a professional level baseball team called the Norfolk Fullards; about his years of playing with the Fullards and, off-season, playing winter ball in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela; about how the Negro Leagues and Black barnstorming teams crumbled and folded after Jackie Robinson and others broke the color barrier in the Major Leagues; about Ray’s final days of play in Mexico . . . and about all the things that happened to him and Marvin during those tumultuous years.
The Cornfield Boys is a tribute to all those Black players who lived for the game of baseball but, except for a chosen few, never received the recognition they deserved.