The Lebanon Clowns played in Negro League Baseball and was the first professionally organized sport in the Wilson County area, when Negro League teams offered the opportunity for African American athletes to play baseball at the professional level in the mid-20th century before black players were integrated into major and minor league teams. The league enjoyed great popularity in the 1940s and ’50s.
Wilson Central athlete Azel Eddings received the 2016 Christopher D. Price Athletic Award during Sunday’s tribute ceremony. The late Chris Price was a standout athlete at Lebanon High School and at Middle Tennessee State University.
He played professional baseball for the Kansas City Royals — he was the first African American from the area to play Major League Baseball. He died in a motorcycle accident in 2009.
A pair of Lebanon Youth Baseball teams also received recognition for their accomplishments this season. The group honored the Lebanon Nationals 11-12-year-old all-star and the Lebanon Lions 14U baseball teams.
The Lebanon Nationals team defeated the Madison County Americans, 10-7, to win the 2016 Tennessee Ozone state championship and will participate in the World Series starting Aug. 6 in Laurel, Miss.
The Lebanon Lions 14U baseball team lost to Lawrence County beat, 4-2, and ended their season as the Tennessee Babe Ruth state runner-ups. The Lions run ruled Grassland and Johnson City before beating Marshall County, 9-1, to advance to the championship game.
Mary Harris, president of the Wilson County Black History Committee, said the annual event serves as a chance to bridge the gap between all sports, races, ethnicities and religious beliefs to unite behind the cause of appreciating Wilson County youth.