Philadelphia lost a significant connection to its storied baseball past with the passing of Negro Leaguer Mahlon Duckett.
by PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
July 19 2015, 1:15 PM EST.
PHILADELPHIA - All you had to do was mention the name of a former Negro League ballplayer in conversation with Mahlon Duckett and his face would light up.
"I just love talking baseball," Duckett said a few years back. "For the majority of my life, it was my life and I loved every minute of it."
Duckett, the last remaining member of the Philadelphia Stars, died last Sunday at age 92.
A graduate of Overbrook High School, Duckett broke into the Negro Leagues as an infielder when he was just 17. He was voted Negro National League Rookie of the Year in 1940 and spent the next nine seasons with the Stars before joining the Homestead Grays for the final season of his career in 1950.
Duckett knew and faced some of the best the Negro Leagues had to offer - from Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson, to Monte Irvin and Jackie Robinson.
"I've seen the best and I'm grateful to be able to say that," Duckett said. "I'm happy to say I've competed against some of the best players to ever walk this earth."
His biggest accomplishment?
"I remember a game against Satchel up at old Yankee Stadium and I took him for a homer," Duckett recalled with a smile. "I wasn't a home run hitter, so you can be sure that was something special for me - especially at Yankee Stadium."
Duckett spent his years after baseball working as an ambassador for the game. He spoke to audiences, including children, about life in the Negro Leagues and the legends he shared the field with.
As the last surviving member of any Philadelphia-based Negro team, the Phillies honored Duckett several times over the past few years at Citizens Bank Park.
"It's always nice to be out there and remembered," Duckett said. "But it really isn't just me that should be remembered, it should be the whole lot of us that played - that's who really needs to be remembered and honored."
Mahlon was employed by the city and worked as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. He retired in 1988.
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