Baseball is still struggling with Black representation at just below 8 percent. However, the rich history of African-Americans in MLB can’t and won’t be forgotten as long as Bob Kendrick and the Negro Leagues Baseball Musem is in effect.
Legendary names such as Rube Foster, Buck O’Neil, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Oscar Charleston, Cool Papa Bell, Buck Leonard, Toni Stone, Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, Connie Morgan, Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron, all contributed to making the Negro Leagues a viable business organization with talent exceeding that of the segregated MLB. The League produced some of the greatest players that the sport has ever seen.
BHM. Celebrating the 100th year of the Negro League!! Some of the best players that you never got to know. pic.twitter.com/a3y1xoEdh9
— Phillip Simons (@CoachSimons05) February 14, 2020
The history and legacy of these men and women, and so many more, will be celebrated by Major League Baseball, Players, and MLB Clubs during the 2020 Championship Season, it was announced on Thursday at a press conference at the Paseo YMCA in Kansas City, Missouri – the location where the Negro National League was founded on February 13, 1920.
Notably, MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) have made a joint donation of $1 million to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (www.NLBM.com) in Kansas City, Missouri to complement efforts to educate and raise awareness of the impact the Negro Leagues and its players had on the sport and society.
Watch this! Like Bob Kendrick, there is not a single day that goes by that I don’t think about or talk about Buck O’Neil. Thanks @nlbmprez for all you do to keep his legacy alive #BlackHistoryMonth https://t.co/Or3sRUuM1o
— Dick Allen (@DickAllen_15) February 13, 2020
Funds from the donation will support the Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center, located at the Paseo YMCA, which will be a public use facility that incorporates the latest in interactive technology and state-of-the-art research equipment, allowing visitors, students, researchers and fans to study every aspect of the Negro Leagues and social history.
When completed, the renovated building will house more than 40,000 square feet of archival materials, educational areas, exhibits, conference facilities and administrative offices that will advance the Museum’s mission and strengthen its position as an internationally recognized attraction and institution.
In addition, the Center will be home to an innovative curriculum for students from around the country to use baseball to learn math and science.
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum #NLBM is celebrating the founding of the Negro Leagues right here in KC 100 years ago! Congratulations to Bob Kendrick @nlbmprez & his team for keeping the story of the Negro Leagues alive! https://t.co/nqK5zS60f8 #NegroLeagues100 #Baseball #KCMO pic.twitter.com/Riokf9jdwI
— Becky S. Wilson (@WDSPRMaven) February 14, 2020
“Major League Baseball is honored to recognize the men and women whose legacies in the Negro Leagues greatly contributed to the history of our sport,” said Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. “We are proud to work alongside Bob Kendrick and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to educate our fans and share powerful stories of perseverance and excellence, as well as a love of the game that sustained the Negro Leagues for decades.”
Tony Clark, Executive Director of the MLBPA said: “The men and women who played in the Negro Leagues are and forever will be part of our community of ballplayers. They brought to our game levels of skill, passion and integrity under the most challenging of circumstances that both inspired and entertained generations of fans in the decades before and after integration. Their legacy should be celebrated and never forgotten.”
Today I’m tipping my hat to all the giants in the Negro Leagues, from Satchel Paige to Toni Stone and so many others. Their brave example, first set 100 years ago, changed America’s pastime for the better––opening it up for new generations of players and fans alike. pic.twitter.com/05jWocKs17
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 29, 2020
Bob Kendrick said: “The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is grateful for the generosity and continued support of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association which further advances our efforts to preserve, celebrate and educate the public about the transcending legacy of the Negro Leagues. The formation of the Negro Leagues in 1920 was a watershed moment in baseball and American history and we look forward to collaborating in a league-wide show of solidarity to commemorate this game-changing milestone.”
Before COVID-19 shortened the MLB season, all Clubs were to commemorate the league-wide recognition of the centennial celebration in its own way on Saturday, June 27th.
MLB players, managers, coaches and umpires planned to wear a symbolic Negro Leagues 100th anniversary logo patch during all games. The logo, a derivation of the official logo created by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, also will be featured on base jewels and lineup cards. Clubs also had special activations at each ballpark planned. Hard to do that now, even when baseball resumes, without the fans.
I’m surrounded by future leaders. These young men are part of a KC male mentoring program. They attended last night’s Gem Theater screening of the new @KCPT Negro Leagues film, “A CENTURY OF CHANGE!” @PBS @kliffkuehl @Royals @MLB @MLB_PLAYERS @KCMO @KC_UYA pic.twitter.com/h9ioD8I01V
— Bob Kendrick (@nlbmprez) February 11, 2020
Many MLB Clubs planned special 100th anniversary ballpark and community activities, in addition to the league-wide recognition. Examples include Negro Leagues tribute games with gameday giveaways, special guests and pregame panels, documentary film screenings, and auctions to support the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum or related organizations.
MLB has historically supported the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM)
In June 2017, MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) jointly contributed $1 million to the Museum, aiming to inspire future generations of underrepresented youth to play baseball through learning about the history of the Negro Leagues.
In 2018, MLB and its Clubs raised money through its Winter Meetings Charity Auction to offset vandalism repair costs at the future Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center
Here’s to 100 years of Black excellence on the diamond.