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Black former players to play in Negro Leagues All-Star Game tribute on Memorial Day weekend

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Black former players to play in Negro Leagues All-Star Game tribute on Memorial Day weekend

The names trigger memories recent and long-ago. From David Price to Russell Martin, from Tony Gwynn Jr. to Jerry Hairston Jr. to Dee Strange-Gordon, former Dodgers sprinkle the rosters.

And the 14 Hall of Famers serving as coaches include a who’s who of legends that tormented the Dodgers as exalted opponents: Ozzie Smith, Ken Griffey Jr., Fergie Jenkins, Dave Winfield, Fred McGriff … the list goes on.

They’ll gather in Cooperstown, N.Y., for the East-West Classic: a tribute to the Negro Leagues All-Star Game on Saturday at historic Doubleday Field. Team captains CC Sabathia and Chris Young held a draft of recently retired Black players to fill rosters for the game, which anchors a Memorial Day weekend of festivities at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum surrounding the opening of an exhibit titled “The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing these guys’ faces when we walk into the Hall of Fame,” Sabathia said. “We are all super close, and it’s going to be fun to get us all together.”

The exhibit will cover the Negro Leagues era, the complexities of integration, Jackie Robinson, the struggles Black players experienced and calls for change in today’s game. Stories from Black baseball also are being added to other exhibits throughout the museum.

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Only 6% of players on opening day MLB rosters this year are Black, a number that has slowly eroded for decades. A study by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at Central Florida found that Black players represented 6.2% of MLB players in 2023 and 7.2% in 2022. When the study began in 1991, 18% of MLB players were Black.

Baseball has launched programs to boost participation in recent years, and one result has been an uptick in the number of Black players drafted in the top 100 — an average of 12 per year since 2021. Ten of the first 50 draft picks in 2023 were Black and 30% of the first-round picks in 2022 were Black — a significant increase over the previous decade, when 17.4% of first-round picks were Black.

Four of the first five selections in the 2022 draft were Black, and all four were alumni of at least one of the following MLB diversity initiatives:

— The DREAM Series operated by MLB and USA Baseball has since 2017 brought together predominantly Black high school pitching and catching prospects nationwide during the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. The program includes seminars, mentorship, scout evaluations and video coverage in addition to on-field instruction. Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High product Hunter Greene participated in the DREAM Series.

— The MLB ID Tour scours the country for baseball talent among underexposed and diverse groups of athletes, and this year has held events at the Compton Youth Academy as well as in Atlanta, Dallas and Chicago.

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— The Breakthrough Series provides a platform for players who have entered the MLB diversity pipeline to perform for scouts and collegiate coaches. The Series, which began in 2008, has produced 22 first-round draft picks and 36 players have advanced to the major leagues.

— The Hank Aaron Invitational will be held in July at Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Fla., where approximately 250 teenage players from across the U.S. will by trained by former MLB players and coaches that in the past have included Griffey, Winfield, Eric Davis, Marquis Grissom, Reggie Smith and Delino DeShields.

Only 6% of Division I baseball players are Black, a number that has grown slightly but remains alarmingly low. Developing future major leaguers is a clear objective of MLB’s diversity initiatives, but getting Black players into college is also important.

“We see more kids playing at the Division I college baseball ranks, and we see more kids being drafted into the minor leagues,” said Del Matthews, MLB vice president of baseball development. “And so we’re just flooding that through [our] various programs.”

The Memorial Day weekend festivities honoring the history of Black baseball will begin with an unveiling of a bronze statue of Aaron on the first floor of the Hall of Fame Museum. Then the East-West Classic — the name is a nod to the Negro League All-Star game held annually from 1933 to 1962 — will bring living, breathing Black players together.

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“It’s going to be one of those weekends that’s going to stick with us for a long time,” said Young, the East team captain who played for the Angels in 2018, the last of his 13-year career. “If you have a son or daughter who plays baseball, take them to the Hall. If you are a baseball player, go check it out. It’s life-changing.”

East-West Classic rosters

East: Captain Chris Young, Josh Barfield, Doug Glanville, Tony Gwynn Jr., Jerry Hairston Jr., Scott Hairston, LaTroy Hawkins, Ryan Howard, Edwin Jackson, Jeremy Jeffress, Adam Jones, Russell Martin, Melvin Mora, David Price and Mo’Ne Davis.

West: Captain CC Sabathia, José Contreras, Ian Desmond, Prince Fielder, Dexter Fowler, Curtis Granderson, Darrell Miller, Tyson Ross, Tony Sipp, Dee Strange-Gordon, B.J. Upton and Justin Upton.

Hall of Fame coaches: Harold Baines, Rollie Fingers, Ken Griffey Jr., Fergie Jenkins, Jim Kaat, Fred McGriff, Eddie Murray, Jim Rice, Lee Smith, Ozzie Smith, Joe Torre, Dave Winfield, Pat Gillick and Ryne Sandberg.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Paige Bueckers aims to make this her final season at UConn … and to go out with a bang

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Paige Bueckers aims to make this her final season at UConn … and to go out with a bang

If there’s an overriding lesson from the last four years of Paige Bueckers’ college basketball career, it’s this, she explains: “You never know what each day will bring. You never know what life is gonna throw at you.”

There was a time when Bueckers didn’t necessary think that way, when she assumed her plans would come to pass. Like when she arrived in Storrs, Conn., in the fall of 2020. She knew then that her freshman season — already outlined with the COVID-19 protocols of testing, masks and isolation — wouldn’t look exactly the way she always imagined as a kid. Still, when she thought about the four seasons in front of her, there was a sense of expectation and progress: Four years of healthy play, a few national titles, a graduation and at the end of it, a seat at the 2024 WNBA Draft.

Very little has gone to plan. Bueckers was, in fact, at the 2024 WNBA Draft, but she was there supporting her teammates Aaliyah Edwards and Nika Mühl being drafted. She described the night as “surreal,” having always imagined that the class she entered with alongside Edwards and Mühl would be the class with which she exited. Instead, she’s now watching them begin their WNBA careers on television as she returns to college offseason workouts, using one of the two available redshirt years.

Bueckers has played only two healthy seasons of college basketball, as a freshman, when she was named national Player of the Year, and last season, when she was again an All-American. She has advanced to three Final Fours in four years but never won a title.

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She has readjusted her expectations, imagining her name called in the 2025 WNBA Draft. She plans to make the 2024-25 season her last at UConn, she told The Athletic.

“There’s a much larger sense of urgency,” Bueckers said. “This is my last year to get what I came here for, which is a national championship. … No more ‘Passive Paige.’”

As Bueckers enters her final chapter in Storrs, going through her first (and last) college offseason workouts in which she’s completely healthy, she’s focused on definitively shifting her mentality while recognizing the need for flexibility. After all, that’s the lesson the last four years have taught her.

Bueckers’ final shot at a national title will come with some adjustments. Edwards and Mühl are gone. The three returning upperclassmen — Azzi Fudd, Aubrey Griffin and Caroline Ducharme — are coming off injuries. Kaitlyn Chen, a Princeton transfer, is settling into the program after arriving on campus in late May.

But that turnover in roster — nothing new to Bueckers — makes her mental shift that much more important as she prepares to shoulder so much more.

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UConn coach Geno Auriemma can point to March to remind Bueckers of her focus. Conversation around Bueckers’ aggressive mentality have been “constant” since she arrived on campus in 2020, he said. But the Huskies’ recent history, an unexpected run to the Final Four, led by Bueckers, provides all the evidence she needs to continue to be a bit more selfish on the floor. Before the Big East tournament, Auriemma said he told Bueckers, “Paige, you need it to get 30 every night. Just make life easier on everybody else. We don’t have a lot of options. We don’t have a lot of choices. So this is what we got. And we can’t be milling around with this stuff.”

In short: No more Passive Paige.

Through five NCAA Tournament games, Bueckers’ game completely elevated. After averaging 21.3 points, 3.7 assists and 4.8 rebounds a game during the regular season, she averaged 25.8 points, 4.6 assists and 8 rebounds a game, pulling the Huskies to their 23rd Final Four.

“I love to score. I’ve always felt like I’m a pass-first player. I love to get my teammates involved. I love to make sure everybody’s happy,” Bueckers said. “But at the end of the day, everyone is happy when we win, and I think we have a better chance of winning when I’m aggressive.”

Added Auriemma: “She’s too nice, too caring about what other people think. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great, great quality. I just don’t know if it’s a great quality for (a) killer superstar.”

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Bueckers has learned too much over the past four seasons to make too many plans. Everything can change in an instant. She knows, because she has been there (multiple times). But with a heightened sense of urgency, she’s approaching this offseason differently. She wants to come in as a better scorer, passer and rebounder. Ask her where her game can improve, and there is no shortage of options that come to Bueckers’ mind: her range, 3-point shooting, off-the-dribble shooting, one-on-one moves, ballhandling, playing off two feet, experimenting with tempo.

She’s trying not to live in the past too much and also not look too far into the future. She hasn’t rewatched the Huskies’ final game of the 2024 NCAA Tournament yet — a loss to Iowa — but she’ll get there. She knows she has to watch it to completely turn the page from last season. Just like the NCAA Tournament, there will be lessons to glean from those 40 minutes, but Bueckers still wonders if she had been just a bit more aggressive, maybe the game would’ve turned out differently. With one final year at UConn, she’ll make sure not to feel that after any game again, she said.

“I want to be an unselfish player, somebody that people love to play with, but at the same time, I’m trying to balance that with also being like, a killer, a scorer, a bucket getter,” she said. “It’s always been a battle of me trying to find the happy medium, but I think for the most part from here on out I gotta be more aggressive first.”

(Photo of Paige Bueckers: Steph Chambers / Getty Images)

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Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy reveals he recently 'beat' cancer

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Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy reveals he recently 'beat' cancer

In the most subtle, low-key fashion, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy revealed he had, and beat, cancer.

The 47-year-old revealed the diagnosis on an episode of “The BFFs Pod” when his co-hosts took note of a scar on his neck.

Portnoy said he “beat it” and replied yes when it was skin cancer “lying in the sun all day with no sunscreen.”

Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy attends an event. (Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)

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“I’ve had a heart attack, cancer and stung by bees, beat it all,” Portnoy joked.

“I went to a doctor, did a skin thing, they scrape it, and one of them came back cancerous; got to take it out,” Portnoy added.

Portnoy said that he had actually been trying to get people to notice the scar. 

“I’ve been trying to shove it in people’s faces,” Portnoy said.

But he did say he kept the operations to himself.

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Dave Portnoy

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy revealed that he recently had cancer and beat it. (The Dave Portnoy Show With Eddie & Co/Youtube)

BARRY BONDS, WILLIE MAYS’ GODSON, POSTS TRIBUTE TO FELLOW GIANTS LEGEND

“I didn’t even tell anyone I was doing it. It was all part of my master plan. God forbid the [Boston] Celtics lost last night, I was going to be like ‘I have cancer. I don’t want to talk about it.’ But they won.”

Portnoy said he and his fellow Barstool hosts were recording a recap of the Celtics’ NBA Finals victory, but no one even mentioned the scar or a bandage on his neck from his celebratory cigar video he posted.

“It’s almost like they know I’m going to call myself a cancer survivor,” Portnoy said. “I was getting close to the point I was going to re-cut this thing open and just start bleeding until somebody would be like, ‘What is going on?’ This is a huge f—ing scar, and nobody’s saying anything.”

Portnoy then said on X, formerly Twitter, that the cancer “wasn’t the serious kind thank god.”

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Dave Portnoy

David Portnoy of Barstool Sports (Tom Briglia/ Getty Images)

Portnoy bought back Barstool last year, initially selling the company for about $500 million, and he bought it back for just $1 after the Penn-ESPN deal.

Follow Fox News Digital’s sports coverage on X and subscribe to the Fox News Sports Huddle newsletter.

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Shoe is on the other foot as Dodgers lose to Rockies in walk-off fashion

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Shoe is on the other foot as Dodgers lose to Rockies in walk-off fashion

This time, the late-game magic belonged to the Colorado Rockies.

A day after the Dodgers’ historic ninth-inning comeback at Coors Field, their hosts answered back Wednesday with an 7-6 walk-off win.

With the score tied in the bottom of the ninth — and one of the Dodgers’ typically low-leverage relievers, Yohan Ramírez, on the mound in the most crucial of situations — the Rockies flipped the script from Tuesday’s night loss, when they blew a five-run lead in the final frame.

This time, they put two runners aboard immediately with back-to-back singles. They advanced the lead one to third on a ground ball to first base.

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Then, in a rare celebratory sequence for a team that has long resided in the National League West basement, outfielder Brenton Doyle delivered a walk-off sacrifice fly.

The Rockies piled out of the dugout. They sprayed Gatorade around the infield.

The exaltation the Dodgers experienced Tuesday, this time was on the other side.

The Dodgers had led for most of the game, despite a rocky start from right-hander Bobby Miller.

Making his first outing in more than two months because of a shoulder injury, Miller battled through a five-run, 6 ⅓-inning appearance. He gave up a three-run homer to Michael Toglia in the bottom of the first, after issuing a single and walk with two out in the inning.

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But the 25-year-old bounced back from there, giving up just one run over the next five innings with the help of three double plays.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, surged ahead thanks to production from the bottom of the lineup.

In the second inning, Nos. 6-8 hitters Gavin Lux (single), Cavan Biggio (hit-by-pitch) and Kiké Hernández (walk) loaded the bases for Shohei Ohtani, who promptly unloaded them with a three-run double. Ohtani was driven home on Freddie Freeman’s RBI single in the next at-bat.

With the score tied again, 4-4, in the top of the fifth, it was another bottom-half hitter, outfielder Jason Heyward from the five-hole, who delivered a two-run double off the wall in right field, continuing his recent tear after Tuesday night’s ninth-inning grand slam.

In the top of the seventh, though, Roberts tried to extend Miller — who was only at 73 pitches — only to watch him surrender a leadoff double to Sean Bouchard, who eventually scored what was Miller’s fifth earned run of the game.

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After Miller exited, the seventh only got messier for the Dodgers. Third baseman Biggio booted a grounder with one out. No. 9 hitter Adael Amador belted a double off reliever Daniel Hudson. And Brenton Doyle tied the score at 6-6 on a one-out sacrifice fly — what could have been the third out of the inning had Biggio not made an error.

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