History was made 100 years ago yesterday, February 13, when the Negro National League was established in Kansas City, Missouri. Eight teams were brought together to create the league and for more than 40 years, African-American and Hispanic athletes who loved the game were able to play organized baseball. Many players from this league, including Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige, Mamie Johnson, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron, just to name a few, were part of a league that brought change and movement not only in the world of baseball, but to the United States as well.
Major League Baseball announced yesterday that they will be honoring the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro Leagues this season. To kick off the celebrations, MLB and the MLB Players Association jointly contributed $1 million to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum located in Kansas City. I have not personally been to the museum myself, but I have heard and read nothing but great reviews of the visits to the museum. The donation will go towards the Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center, located at the Paseo YMCA in Kansas City. It will be a public use facility that will include up-to-date technology to allow visitors to learn about and study the Negro Leagues and its impact on baseball and social history.
As part of the celebration, teams and umpires will be wearing a patch on their uniform on Saturday, June 27. The patch is similar to the official logo created by the museum and will also be on bases and lineup cards. Throughout the season, teams will be having their own events to commemorate this historic anniversary. For our Minnesota Twins, they will be having a special celebration before and during the Friday, August 14, game against the Kansas City Royals. Additionally, the first 10,000 fans through the gates will receive a short-bill St Paul Gophers hat. Before the game, there will be an on-field ceremony and additional events to spotlight the importance and impact of African-American baseball in Minnesota.
Not to be confined to one day, the Twins front office staff read two books to over 4,000 students in Twin Cities school districts that highlighted the impact two important players had on the game. The first one was a story about Jackie Robinson called Testing the Ice and the second one was Catching the Moon, which is about Toni Stone. The readings were part of a year-long program called “Reading is Powerful”.
To spotlight an activity from another team in the MLB, the Kansas City Royals will be hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, May 17, when the first 10,000 fans will receive a Jackie Robinson Kansas City Monarchs tee. Game-worn jerseys and hats will be available for auction after the game with the proceeds going towards the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Additionally, the team is inviting living Negro League alumni to the game for recognition and autograph sessions. The team is also encouraging fans that are attending the game to “dress to the nines” in period attire of attending a baseball game after going to church.
African-American and Hispanic players have had and continue to have a large impact on the game of baseball. To see the full list of activities and events, click here.