Since its inception in 2007, the Chicago White Sox’s Double Duty Classic (DDC) has served as a bridge connecting Chicago’s next generation of baseball stars to the city’s rich Negro Leagues history one pitch at a time. 

The Double Duty Classic (DDC) is an annual two-day baseball developmental experience featuring more than 30 top 17U high school players from across the U.S., hosted by the Chicago White Sox. Each of the players invited to participate in this year’s DDC will receive skill evaluations from collegiate scouts and coaches, a Negro Leagues edition of viral TikTok historian Shermann Dilla Thomas’s Chicago Mahogany Bus Tour, and an invitation to play a baseball game recreating the Negro Leagues’ East-West All-Star Game at Guaranteed Rate Field. Former Negro League player Dennis Biddle will be throwing the ceremonial first pitch. 

The players will wear replica East-West All-Star Game uniforms, honoring the Black baseball leagues and its players. According to the Chicago Tribune, the first East-West game was held on Sept. 10, 1933 at Comiskey Park, the former name of the White Sox’s home turf. The game returned to Comisky 28 times, and brought out more than 50,000 fans annually. 

The 14th Annual Double Duty Classic will begin at 6:00 p.m. on July 18. Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Admission to the game is free and open to the public, with free parking available in Guaranteed Rate Field’s Lot B, located on the northeast corner of 35th and Shields.

The inspiration for the name of the Double Duty Classic stems from the late Chicago American Giants star Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe. Prior to his passing in 2005, Radcliffe was a fixture at Chicago White Sox games for years, White Sox Charities executive director Christine O’Reilly told The TRiiBE. O’Reilly said she knew Radcliffe well, remembers him fondly, and has maintained a relationship with the members of his extended family.

The players will wear replica East-West All-Star Game uniforms, honoring the Black baseball leagues and its players. Photo courtesy of Chicago White Sox.

“[Radcliffe] had a smile that lit up the ballpark and a twinkle in his eye,” O’Reilly said. “There was such zest for life about him. The players loved him. [Retired two-sport star and former White Sox outfielder] Bo Jackson would come to the ballpark and always spend time with Duty. [Chicago White Sox legend] Frank Thomas loved him [and Hall of Famer] Tim Raines. Guys would come into the ballpark and the first thing they would say is, ‘where’s Duty?’” 

O’Reilly said the DDC is one of the White Sox’s season highlights. For fans who have yet to attend the DDC, she said they can expect a “really gritty, hard-nosed style” of baseball. 

“I think we’re going to be amazed with the talent, the high-level talent,” she said. “There’s something to having the opportunity of playing on the big league field. [The players] really embrace the moment.”

Highlighting the history of the Negro League in Chicago is one of the foundational aspects of the DDC. In years past, players participating in the DDC were greeted with speeches from historians such as Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick, and the late Chicago historian Timuel Black. O’Reilly said the Double Duty Classic does not have a specific curriculum it uses to teach players about the Negro League; yet, DDC organizers continuously work to make the history of the Negro League new and fresh for the players. 

For Kenwood Academy outfielder/first baseman Savion Flowers, playing in the Double Duty Classic (DDC) is the next step in turning his childhood dream of playing Major League Baseball into a reality. 

Flowers, 17, who will be playing in his second DDC this year, said he feels more comfortable playing in this year’s game. He described his first time as “nerve racking” because he was one of the youngest players in the game.

The players will wear replica East-West All-Star Game uniforms, honoring the Black baseball leagues and its players. Photo courtesy of Chicago White Sox.

“This year, I feel more like a veteran so I can kind of relax and play my game and not do too much, knowing that I’ve played in these circumstances before,” Flowers said. 

Scouts and coaches from several colleges and universities will watch the DDC participants play and offer their feedback. Representatives from Jackson State University, Gramling University, Southern University, Prairie A&M University, Illinois State University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Olive Harvey College, and more will be in attendance. 

Players do not receive financial compensation or travel assistance to participate in the DDC, as it would conflict with their amateur status for their collegiate baseball careers. 

Flowers is one of more than 20 participants of the Chicago White Sox’s award-winning Amateur City Elite (ACE) who will be playing in the DDC, according to White Sox Manager of ACE and Community Relations Troy Williams. 

ACE is a youth baseball development program launched by the White Sox in 2007 to increase the overall interest in baseball and the number of African Americans playing the sport. In addition to baseball skill development, ACE offers education and mentorship resources to players. In 2022, the program was the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Allan H. Selig Award for Philanthropic Excellence.

Flowers is in his fourth year of the ACE program, as well. A dynamic all-around player, Flowers was one of the leaders for Kenwood’s team that won the school’s first-ever baseball city championship in 2023. He told The TRiiBE he’s been following the DDC since he was 10 years old. 

“I saw [the DDC] streaming on TV, and ever since then, it’s been something that I always wanted to do,” Flowers said. “I saw a lot of guys go into [the MLB draft] that attended Double Duty.”

Forty-seven former DDC participants have been selected in the annual Major League Baseball Draft since the DDC’s inception, according to Chicago White Sox senior coordinator of public relations Colin McGauley. Among those players is Chicago native — and former Milwaukee Brewer outfielder— Corey Ray, who was a DDC participant selected by the Milwaukee Brewers with the fifth overall pick of the 2016 MLB Draft 

is a freelance contributor for The TRiiBE.