NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Nov. 10 exhibition between Vanderbilt and Michigan has been named the David Williams Fall Classic, honoring the late Vanderbilt vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletics director while promoting diversity and inclusion. First pitch is set for noon from Hawkins Field and admission is free.
Vanderbilt worked closely with Nike, Music City Baseball and the Negro League Baseball Museum to develop uniforms which pay tribute to Nashville’s rich and diverse baseball tradition. The Commodores will participate as the Nashville Stars while Michigan will compete as the Detroit Stars, both former Negro Major League teams.
“It is with great pride that we take the opportunity to honor our former colleague and friend, and name our fall scrimmage with Michigan as the David Williams Fall Classic,” Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin said. “This gives us all an opportunity to recognize David and his family for his work to promote diversity and inclusion as well as recognize the positive contributions to American society of the Negro Baseball Leagues. Our connection with the Michigan program, especially as it pertains to diversity specific to college baseball, makes for a natural date for both schools. The fact that David Williams was a Detroit, Michigan, native and knew Coach Bakich very well, gives it additional meaning.”
Prior to the game, Vanderbilt Athletics — alongside the two teams — will recognize Williams’ family.
“We are honored to participate in the inaugural David Williams Fall Classic,” said Michigan head coach Erik Bakich. “Vanderbilt and Michigan stood tallest on college baseball’s biggest stage a few months ago, symbolizing academic and athletic excellence while promoting diversity in sports. I remember David Williams as a tremendous leader, an inspiration, and a pioneer in higher education, college athletics, and initiatives for diversity and inclusion. It was a privilege to learn from great men like Coach Corbin and David Williams during my seven years as an assistant coach. We have built the Michigan program with a similar blueprint, targeting elite student-athletes, along with a diverse roster of players from all races and socioeconomic backgrounds.”
Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro League Baseball Museum, will be among those in attendance. The museum, located in Kansas City, Missouri, celebrates the rich history of African American baseball and its impact on the social advancement of America.
“The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is excited to have a role in the inaugural David Williams Fall Classic,” said Kendrick. “It’s important that college baseball players and fans understand the transcending impact that the Negro Leagues had on the game and society, and I am thrilled that two premier programs such as Vanderbilt and Michigan are honoring that legacy. Nashville is an appropriate place for this to happen, given the city’s importance in the civil rights movement, higher education and sports. David Williams was a trailblazer in his own right, a man who called both Michigan and Nashville home and who cared deeply about the history of African Americans and sports. This is a fitting tribute to an iconic figure, and I look forward to coming to Nashville in November to be a part of it.”
Fans in attendance can pick up free t-shirts, while the first 300 through the gate will receive a complimentary Vanderbilt desk helmet. All youth eighth grade and younger can stand on the field for the national anthem and run the bases after the exhibition.