Local Juneteenth Observance Features Nod to Late NIH’er
Montgomery County’s Scotland community in Potomac, Md., recently announced its observance of Juneteenth and festivities will again include a connection to NIH. On June 19, the heritage festival will present the second annual Clarence “Pint” Isreal Juneteenth Classic hosted by Bethesda Big Train, a summer collegiate baseball team, at Povich Field in Rockville, Md.
Big Train players will wear jerseys honoring Isreal, a longtime Montgomery County resident who was raised in Rockville. He worked at NIH from 1948 to 1973 as a lab technician in the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases’ Laboratory of Biophysical Chemistry. Before then though, he played professional baseball in the Negro League from 1940 to 1947, covering third base for both the Washington Homestead Grays and Newark Eagles. He won the league’s World Series in 1946 with the Eagles—in one game of the series besting legendary pitcher Satchel Paige, who played for the Kansas City Monarchs.
Isreal found success playing and managing NIH Club baseball, too. (See top photo from p. 5 of the NIH Record, 1970). In 1951, he led the NIH squad to capture the Metropolitan Area Championship. NIH topped more than 230 other local teams that year with 45 wins and 3 losses. Isreal was inducted into the Montgomery County Sports Hall of Fame last December.
Juneteenth, which gets its name by combining “June” and “nineteenth,” commemorates the June 19, 1865, order freeing slaves in Texas, which was the most remote secessionist state in the Confederacy. Although President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, enforcement in Texas took more than 2½ years to take effect.
For more information on the Juneteenth game, visit http://www.bigtrain.org/.