The Price is Right! Market's 90-Year-Old Vendor Came to GR to Play Ball
Roscoe Price doesn’t let his 90 years slow him down. If you’ve shopped the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market, you’ve no doubt seen him and his table of Watkins products, including spices, extracts, oils and seasonings, as well as locally grown strawberries, peaches or apples, depending on what’s in season. Before coming to this market, he vended his wares at the Fulton Street Farmers’ Market for 28 years. “Selling at the market is keeping me busy and alert,” Price says. “It’s something to do.”
Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Price first moved to Michigan in 1947 to play baseball with the Grand Rapids Black Sox (please see sidebar below). Subsequently, Price completed two stints in the military and took positions on other segregated African American baseball teams in Louisville, Kentucky, Washington DC and Flint, Michigan. He came back to stay in Grand Rapids in 1956 where he played again for the Black Sox. Price also experienced segregation in both the Army and the Marines. “There was no chance to go up in rank if you were black. I went in as a private and came out as a private,” he says. “When it comes to racism, we’ve still got a ways to go even in this city.”
In 1956, Price signed on with his first integrated ball team, the Grand Rapids Sullivans. By then he had married and started a family. He supported them by working at the Reynolds Aluminum Plant in suburban Wyoming. He and his wife, Dorothy, celebrated more than 60 anniversaries before her death in April 2016. The couple raised six children who blessed them with eight grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. Until Dorothy passed, the couple was active calling bingo at their senior living community.
Farmers’ market patrons enjoy Mr. Price’s quiet demeanor, easy smile and reasonable prices. He has much wisdom and many amazing stories to tell. The market’s open through Nov. 12. Stop by Mr. Price’s Watkins table and strike up a conversation.
A member of the 1945 Negro Southern League All Star Team, Roscoe Price’s baseball career encompassed many teams in many states during times when sports in the United States were still shamefully segregated, including the following: 1945 Louisville Black Colonels, 1945 Negro Southern League All Star Team, 1946-1947 Military Service, 1947-1948 Grand Rapids Black Sox, 1948-1951 Zulu's Cannibal Giants, Louisville, KY, 1951 Washington Pilots, 1952 Grand Rapids Black Sox, 1952-1955 Military Service, 1955 Grand Rapids Black Sox, 1955 Kelley - Holmes Baseball Team, Flint, Michigan, 1956-1957 Grand Rapids Black Sox, 1956-1963 Grand Rapids Sullivan's