ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Black history is American history, especially when it comes to sports.

For every Jackie Robinson or Hank Aaron or Willie Mays you’ve heard of, there are countless more Negro League baseball players you haven’t. A Twin Cities dermatologist aims to spotlight these players with a collection of paintings at CHS Field in St. Paul.

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“Back in the day, they had very few or no color photographs, so by painting color paintings of these, it brings them to life,” Charles Crutchfield III said.

For a passion project like this, teamwork makes all the difference.

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“I work with another fellow, we do it together… I’m kind of the director, I get all the broad strokes, I pick all the colors, I do the research on the uniforms, the skin color, the eye color, the backgrounds – I do all the broad work – and then he’ll do all the details,” Crutchfield said. “I couldn’t do it without him, he couldn’t do it without me, so we’re a team.”

Dr. Charles Crutchfield III has one goal for this project.

“The goal is to bring these people to the awareness of all the Minnesotans and across the country. We’re looking at doing an exhibit at the Negro League Baseball Museum and at the Jackie Robinson Museum in New York, so we’re working on that right now,” Crutchfield said. “We put some of the popular ones and the not-so-popular ones to expose everyone to these great baseball stars.”

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This is just the beginning. Forty images are on display at CHS Field, and he has nearly 200 in all. Crutchfield says he is planning to expand the exhibition.

Norman Seawright III