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Program 907

1. the Lexington Hustlers
2. Lower Howard’s Creek Nature and Heritage Preserve
Season 9 Menu

Fayette County

Producer: Charlee Heaton Pagoulatos
Videographers: George Murphy, John Breslin, Brandon Wickey
Audio: Mitch Buchanan, Doug Collins, Brent Abshear

Baseball in Black and White

The Lexington Hustlers

In 1947, Jackie Robinson and Bobby Flynn made baseball history. The Robinson story is well known: As a rookie with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he broke baseball’s color barrier by becoming the first African-American player in the modern-era major leagues. The Flynn story may not be as famous, but it, too, represents a landmark in race relations.

Flynn, a white player, had already been turned down by several teams because he was “too small” when he happened to run into Lexington Hustlers player and coach John “Scoop” Brown on a bus. Brown (pictured at right with Manager Butch Glass and General Manager Johnnie Jackson) encouraged Flynn to try out for the Hustlers, a black semi-pro team. Flynn made the team ... and a bit of history, since his addition created the first integrated team in the South.

Lexington in the 1940s was as strictly segregated as every other Southern town. But it had a close-knit black community with a sizable proportion of businessmen, doctors, and other professionals. Early that decade, a group of African-American investors founded the Hustlers to play barnstorming Negro League teams, who were attracted by Lexington’ relatively high-quality field and facilities, as well as other semi-pro teams. The Hustlers and their fans saw future major leaguers and Negro League legends like Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, Willie Mays, and Josh Gibson come to town to play. With no white team in town, they also continued to accept white players: By 1949, the roster was about two-thirds black and one-third white.

This remembrance features Bobby and Scoop (who died in 2002) telling their own stories and those of some teammates. One, William E. “Bunny” Davis, went on to become a Danville city commissioner and then spent 28 years as the official doorkeeper of the Kentucky House of Representatives before his death in October 2001. Another was Dave Whitney, who moved up to the Negro League Kansas City Monarchs, where he replaced future Hall of Famer Ernie Banks at shortstop, before switching to basketball and becoming a legendary coach at Alcorn State. We also hear from Winston Powell, daughter of Johnnie Jackson, and former Hustler fan “Slick” Lou Johnson, who grew up to taste World Series glory himself as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Clark County

For more information:
Friends of Lower Howard’s Creek, 22 Manor Drive, Winchester, KY 40391,

Producer: Valerie Trimble
Videographers: Brandon Wickey, Matt Grimm
Audio: Brent Abshear
Editor: Jim Piston

History and Habitat

Lower Howard’s Creek

Our next subject is historic, too—not to mention scenic. In November 2000, the Clark County Fiscal Court purchased 240 acres of land near the confluence of Lower Howard’s Creek with the Kentucky River and set it aside as the Lower Howard’s Creek Nature and Heritage Preserve, protecting both habitat for endangered species and some man-made reminders of early Kentucky settlement.

As pioneers began to move into Kentucky in the late 18th century, the Bluegrass region became a center of manufacturing, largely because of its abundant water resources. The numerous creeks and streams that feed down into the Kentucky River from higher surrounding ground provided sites for water-powered mills, encouraging pioneers to move out from the safety of forts like the one at Harrodsburg and establish outlying stations. The Lower Howard’s Creek preserve contains numerous archaeological sites from this period, including the log-and-stone Martin House and Mill.

Meanwhile, the ruggedness of the gorges carved by these creeks discouraged agriculture. So as the era of water power passed, people abandoned many of the outlier stations. As a result, Lower Howard’s Creek is also a natural treasure, sheltering second-growth forest and a profusion of wildflowers—including several native species that are now rare elsewhere in the state because of competition with non-native plants introduced by those same settlers.

Because of the ongoing archaeological and biological research, the preserve is open only for scheduled, guided hikes. The web site has a list of events.

SEASON 9 PROGRAMS: 901902903904905906907908909: Along Highway 62

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