Former Danville Yankees baseball player shares about his Danville experience

Published 4:07 pm Thursday, June 30, 2022

The Danville-Boyle County African American Historical Society (DBCAAHS) interviewed a former Danville Yankees baseball player, William “Billy” Tucker, on May 28. 

The Yankees were a team of African Americans who played in the mid-1900s in Danville. Tucker played on the team in 1957 and 1958.

The DBCAAHS has been conducting interviews with older Danvillians to get a better picture of African American history in the county. President Michael Hughes wanted to interview Tucker to learn more about the Yankees, a team that the locally famous William “Bunny” Davis played on.

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Some of Tucker’s family members accompanied him at the interview, which was held at the History Center on Second Street. Hughes and Vice President Charles D. Grey asked most of the questions. The interview was livestreamed on Facebook and recorded for the Centre College local history archives, which serves as a record of life in Danville. 

Tucker, who was born in 1933, grew up in Danville and said he had a wonderful life here.

“I think Danville is a wonderful place to come up,” Tucker said. “I loved Danville then, and I love Danville now.”

He graduated from Bate High School in 1951, and said he loved his education experience. 

“I think we had one of the best classes,” he said. “We always had a very close class, all the boys and girls; we never had fights or arguments.”

Despite racial inequalities and challenges in the education field around that time in America, Tucker said he believed his education was overall good. However, he also said he probably didn’t learn everything he should’ve. 

After high school, Tucker attended Central State College, and spent four years in the U.S. Air Force. He spent several years in Washington D.C., but came back to Danville for a short time later on.

Tucker’s first experience with the Yankees was as a mascot for the team. The team regularly traveled around the state in a big truck; Tucker followed them to Lexington, Louisville, and other cities, and later played on the team. 

The Yankees practice field used to be near where the Dollhouse museum is now, on 6th Street. 

One thing that Hughes had been wondering about was the “Raggedy Nine” team in Danville. He had seen that team name in old articles, but didn’t have much other information about it. 

Tucker was able to clarify that the “Raggedy Nine” was the original name for the Cubs baseball team, which was another local team at the time, and got the name “Raggedy Nine” because they didn’t have uniforms. The DBCAAHS has old pictures of the Cubs team in addition to the Yankees.

After the interview, attendees gathered at CentreWorks for a reception with Lee’s Chicken, and viewed a slideshow of historic photos. Danville Mayor Mike Perros presented Tucker with a key to the city.