PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Many of us know Massalina Memorial Homes has called Panama City its home base for many years, but many of us don't know the area was a baseball field before then where the Panama City Blue Sox played.
The Blue Sox played during the 1940s and 50s against other teams in the negro baseball league. (WJHG/WECP)
"We used to go up there and go through the knothole and peep and see. Sometimes we couldn't get into the games because it was just so crowded,” said Long-time Bay County resident Leon Miller.
The Blue Sox played during the 1940s and 50s against other teams in the negro baseball league. Locals went to games to see their home team play against many stars from that era like Carrabelle’s very own Buck O'Neil.
"It bought in such stars then like Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Larry Doby, Satchel Paige, Don Newcombe, Josh Gibson,” said Miller.
Miller said the Blue Sox inspired many children to play baseball, including high schoolers.
"That led Rosenwald to being the first high school in Bay County to win a state championship and bring it back to Bay County,” said Miller.
Even though segregation was legal during those times, it brought different races and communities together.
"The Panama City Blue Sox kept the community together,” said Miller. “Anytime somebody was coming to town. All the community would go out to the ballpark and have a social good time. They enjoyed baseball that was a community outlet for them at that time."
During the 1950s, Massalina Memorial Homes was built and the Blue Sox moved over to Lion's Field near Highway 231 and 77 and became the Panama City Fliers.
Miller said though much time has passed since the days of the Blue Sox. It's important to remember and acknowledge their legacy.
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