Negro Leagues centennial celebrated Aug. 16

July 14th, 2020

NEW YORK -- Major League clubs will celebrate the centennial of the founding of the Negro National League on Aug. 16, with all players, managers, coaches and umpires wearing a Negro Leagues 100th anniversary logo during all games.

The logo, which was created by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, also will be featured on base jewels and lineup cards.

The celebration, originally slated for June 27, will cap what has become a summer-long honoring of the league and its players, 100 years after the league’s founding. The museum's plan to utilize the anniversary to bring attention to the Negro Leagues and garner support for keeping their history alive was initially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But now it’s all starting to come together.

Before the museum had to close its doors on March 14 due to the pandemic, it joined forces with Toyota in February and shot a commercial in tribute to the Negro Leagues’ centennial year. The commercial was recently released, said Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick.

In the ad, former Kansas City Monarchs infielder Jim Robinson is featured in the car commercial. Robinson, who appeared in three East-West Negro League All-Star Games from 1956-58, is shown in the video having fun while getting a ride to the museum, where he then puts on an old glove before heading to the ballpark and receiving a standing ovation from the fans.

“At 90, he has become a TV star,” Kendrick said. “It was supposed to air in February for Black History Month, but all the focus was on the coronavirus and [Toyota] held it back. They released the commercial two weeks ago.”

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum reopened last month as more and more efforts surfaced to support it and honor those who played in the Negro Leagues.

Last week, former Major Leaguer CC Sabathia and the Major League Baseball Players Association joined forces with the museum and iconic lifestyle brand, Roots of Fight, by creating a clothing line dedicated to the players who played in the Negro Leagues.

Prices for the clothes range from $40 to $350 and will debut exclusively on RootsOfFight.com.

Sabathia is the creative director of the clothing line. In fact, he designed the program and apparel to include the phrase "They Played for Us" to represent the lasting influence Negro Leagues players have had on today's game and popular culture.

The phrase is meant to amplify the magnitude of the impact black players of yesteryear have had on today's players. They played for us, so we can__… will appear on the apparel, giving individuals a chance to finish the sentence with a personalized message of gratitude. Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks already posted a video in which he's wearing one of the T-shirts.

Related

A recent campaign to have celebrities, players, politicians and other dignitaries tip a cap to the Negro Leagues also was very successful in bringing attention to the league and museum.

The idea started with Kendrick, then was spearheaded by sportswriter Joe Posnanski, who wrote "The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America." With the help of friend and business partner Dan McGinn, the project took off, featuring contributions from all four living former presidents, Hall of Famers like Hank Aaron, many current MLB players, four generations of the Jackie Robinson family, as well as celebrities and all-time greats from other sports, including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Bo Jackson and many others. Baseball fans from all over joined in sharing their tip of the cap on social media.

“The tipping of the cap is going well,” Kendrick said “Obviously we came out with guns blazing when we launched the campaign. I can’t even keep up on my own social media. We are getting a tremendous response. It has done everything I had hoped, to be honest.”

It's still not too late to join in. Tipping your cap to the Negro Leagues is a simple three-step process:

Step 1: Take a photo or short video of yourself tipping your cap to the Negro Leagues. If you would like to include some words -- maybe about the cap you are using, why you feel connected to it, what the Negro Leagues mean to you, etc. -- that would be great.

Step 2: Send the photo/video to [email protected].

Step 3: Post your video on social media using the hashtag #TipYourCap2020.

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is located on East 18th Street, between Vine and Highland, just across from the Gem Theater in Kansas City. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT, Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Occupancy remains limited to 150 to 200 people at a time in order to provide for safe social distancing.

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is a privately funded, non-profit organization; annually renewing memberships to support the museum are available ranging from $25 to $1,000. Membership includes free admission for the year, a 10 percent discount on merchandise from the NLBM Extra Inning Store and advance information on special events. Members also receive a gift and additional benefits at each level of support.

The museum hopes to have much more in the hopper for fans before the season ends.