KANSAS CITY, MO. – 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. Hank Aaron. 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 today 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. 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 donation is also intended to spur additional contributions to the Museum via a special centennial fundraising platform. Fans can pitch in their support by donating at nlbm.com/centennial.
Additional activities will be in association with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and its president, Bob Kendrick, who continues to lead the museum, a physical memorial to the first successful, organized professional Black Baseball League in America.
“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.”
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.”
On Saturday, June 27th, all Clubs will commemorate the league-wide recognition of the centennial celebration. MLB players, managers, coaches and umpires will 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 may also support with special activations at each ballpark.
Many MLB Clubs have planned special 100th anniversary ballpark and community activities, in addition to the league-wide recognition on June 27th. 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. **See separate attachment with specific Club examples**
MLB will provide an opportunity for hundreds of youth baseball and softball players, including high school and college student-athletes, to learn about Negro Leagues history. Kendrick is already scheduled to attend the Andre Dawson Classic, a college baseball tournament hosted by MLB at the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy to highlight baseball programs at Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) on February 15th, and the Hank Aaron Invitational, a development experience designed to serve underrepresented high school age players operated by MLB, the MLBPA and USA Baseball (and funded by the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation) at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Florida in July. Additionally, in February, MLB will host Kendrick in its headquarter offices to participate in a panel discussion with MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds and others.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary, MLB Network continues to air vignettes from a new conversation between Kendrick and Reynolds filmed recently at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, with topics including Jackie Robinson's time with the Kansas City Monarchs as well as Negro Leagues legends Satchel Paige and Oscar Charleston. Additional vignettes voiced by Major League players paying tribute to the Negro Leagues players, including Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Chris Archer on Smokey Joe Williams, and Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien on Willie Wells, will air across MLB Network’s studio programming. The Negro Leagues also will be the focus of MLB Network’s weekly kids-focused program Play Ball on Saturday, June 27th at 10:00 a.m. ET. MLB.com and MLB Social Media platforms also will highlight Negro Leagues players as well as League & Club activities. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has designated a special anniversary hashtag to be used on social media – #NegroLeagues100.
MLB, Clubs and MLB Players have historically supported the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM):
- 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.
- 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. The contribution, allocated from the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation, supported operations, museum services, expansion, and educational and community programming. In particular, a portion of the funds went toward the Museum’s completion of the Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center.
- MLB and the MLBPA contributed to the construction of the Kansas City Royals MLB Urban Youth Academy, a state-of-the-art baseball, softball, and education complex situated near the NLBM. The Academy, which is part of the widespread MLB Youth Academy Network, features four outdoor turf fields, an educational press box, and a 38,000-square-foot indoor facility that includes a turf infield, batting tunnels, classrooms, and an athletic training room.
- Each year, MLB covers the cost to bring special displays from the NLBM to “PLAY BALL Park” during MLB All-Star Week.
Over the years, MLB has provided financial and promotional support to the Museum, and made it a central component of its All-Star Legacy Program during 2012 MLB All-Star Week.
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CLUB ACTIVATION EXAMPLES – NEGRO LEAGUES 100TH ANNIVERSARY
- Arizona Diamondbacks – On Jackie Robinson Day (April 15th), the D-backs will celebrate African-American Heritage at Chase Field. In addition to special on-field, pregame activities, the Club plans to host an essay contest for kids and place Negro Leagues Baseball Museum displays featuring Negro Leagues players. The D-backs also have a special event ticket package available, which includes a limited-edition denim cap, game ticket and access to a pregame panel featuring Arizona State University Head Football Coach Herm Edwards, Sports Columnist/Author William C. Rhoden, President of NLB Museum Bob Kendrick and Arizona State University Global Sport Institute CEO Ken Shropshire. In addition, Edwards will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
- Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles will commemorate 100th anniversary celebrations at Camden Yards on May 9th in conjunction with Negro League Baseball Day in Maryland. The first 15,000 fans in attendance ages 15 and older will receive a Baltimore Elite Giants Replica Cap giveaway.
- Chicago White Sox – The White Sox will launch an annual video contest on February 14th, inviting young fans to enter a video about an inspiring man or woman who helped pave the way for African-Americans in baseball. Entrants are encouraged to shine a spotlight on “unsung heroes” from the Negro Leagues who greatly contributed to the history and legacy of the sport. On March 5th, the organization will offer a free screening of “The Other Boys of Summer”, a film exploring civil rights in America through the lives of Negro League baseball players. Emmy-nominated director Lauren Meyer will be in attendance for a Q&A on her work and to assist kids with their video contest entries. On June 27th, the White Sox will preview a custom display, curated by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, illustrating the rich history of Chicago’s Negro Leagues and information on the East-West All-Star games played at Comiskey Park. Fans will also have the opportunity to receive a Negro Leagues pin at the Revolution Brewing #SoxSocial Tap Room. Then, on June 30th, the White Sox will host the organization’s annual Double Duty Classic, where young players will wear a symbolic Negro Leagues 100th anniversary logo patch. Named after Negro Leagues standout Ted “Double-Duty” Radcliffe, the Classic is an all-star exhibition game celebrating the best inner-city high school players in the country. Continuing its celebration of diversity and inclusion in sports, the White Sox will conclude their Game Changers panel event series on September 17th by commemorating Andrew “Rube” Foster’s birthday and his lasting impact on Chicago.
- Cincinnati Reds – The Reds will celebrate the Negro Leagues 100th anniversary on June 27th with the annual African American Community Night. Festivities will include a pregame ceremony honoring the African American Community Advocate Award winner presented by TriHealth. The Reds Hall of Fame & Museum will be showcasing the Shades of Greatness traveling exhibit from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum featuring 35 original works of art produced by diverse professional artists from across the country that interpret the Negro Leagues experience on and off the playing field.
- Detroit Tigers – The Tigers Negro Leagues Weekend Celebration is scheduled for July 17th-19th. On Saturday, July 18th, the 26th Annual Negro Leagues Tribute Game will be held at Comerica Park with the Tigers representing the Detroit Stars and the White Sox representing the Chicago American Giants. Prior to Saturday’s game, the club will host a pregame Concourse Q&A featuring former Negro Leagues players and a Negro Leagues historian. Each of the participating former Negro Leagues players will be recognized prior to that day’s game.
- Kansas City Royals – In addition, the team will honor the Negro Leagues Centennial celebration through the annual Salute to the Negro Leagues Game when they play the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, May 17th. The first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a Jackie Robinson Monarchs Tee. The game worn jerseys and hats from both teams will be available for auction at royals.com/auction with proceeds benefiting the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The Royals will invite living Negro League alumni to the game for recognition and an autograph signing. The event also encourages fans to be “Dressed to the Nines” in period attire of attending a baseball game after church. Other event plans will be focused around the Centennial Celebration.
- Los Angeles Dodgers – The Dodgers will host a documentary screening of “A Long Way From Home” for 150 high school students along with a panel discussion on February 13th.
- Miami Marlins – The Miami Marlins in partnership with the Miami Marlins Foundation are elevating the celebration of Jackie Robinson Day on April 15th. The Marlins will also bring the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum traveling exhibit to Marlins Park during the May 15-21 homestand. In addition, the Marlins will host African-American Heritage Celebration on Friday, June 19th, and a youth clinic at Marlins Park for members of Marlins RBI presented by UHealth on Saturday, June 27th. Leading up to June 27th, the Marlins will partner with Urgent Inc., a local youth and community development organization, for community projects at Dorsey Park, which hosted Negro League games and was home to the Miami Giants as well as a focal point of Miami’s African-American community in the 1930s and 40s.
- Minnesota Twins – The Twins will hold a special Negro Leagues Centennial Celebration before and during their August 14th game against the Kansas City Royals, as the first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a short-bill St. Paul Gophers hat. The club will host an on-field, pregame ceremony that night honoring the history and legacy of the Negro Leagues, while creating an in-ballpark display spotlighting the continued impact of Black Baseball in Minnesota. Additionally, as part of the club’s season-long “Reading Is Powerful” program, Twins front office staff read Testing the Ice, a story about Jackie Robinson, and Catching the Moon, a story about Toni Stone, to nearly 4,000 students around the Twin Cities. Each visit includes dialogue around the enduring impact Robinson and Stone have had on baseball.
- New York Mets – In honor of Jackie Robinson Day on April 15, the Mets will host two special screenings of The Other Boys of Summer, a documentary about racism, segregation and civil rights in America, told through the lives of the Negro League Baseball players. Mets players and coaches, front-office employees and over 100 students will attend one of the two screenings. Each screening will be followed by a panel discussion with the film’s director, Lauren Meyer, along with Mets legend Mookie Wilson and members of the Mets front-office and field-staff whose lives have been impacted by Jackie Robinson.
- Oakland Athletics – The Oakland A's will host African American Heritage Weekend on June 19th-21st at the Oakland Coliseum. Celebrating the team's past, present, and future, the weekend will include a postgame fireworks show, a Marcus Semien bobblehead giveaway, recognition of local community members, panel discussions, a health fair, and more. The A's will also pay tribute to the Oakland Oaks and Oakland Larks.
- Philadelphia Phillies – The Phillies are honoring the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues in various ways throughout the year, leading off with a Phillies MLB Urban Youth Academy (UYA) educational event in late February. Other highlights include the Phillies Jackie Robinson Salute on Friday, April 17th, where all fans will receive an Andrew McCutchen Philadelphia Stars T-Shirt during that night’s game against the Marlins. In addition, the Phillies will commemorate the Negro Leagues 100th Anniversary during an on-field, pregame salute on Saturday, June 27th, taking place at that day’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. During this event, the Phillies will unveil a permanent display honoring the Philadelphia Stars at Citizens Bank Park. Also in recognition of the 100th Anniversary, the club will reveal a Philadelphia Stars historical marker at the Phillies Urban Youth Academy. Plus, scholarships will be awarded in the name of the Negro Leagues and Philadelphia Stars to two college-bound seniors from the team’s UYA.
- Pittsburgh Pirates – Throughout the 2020 season, the Pirates will hold their annual “Long Live Their Legacy” Series, an initiative promoting the history of the Negro Leagues and its many stars. The program is a traveling presentation made available to Pittsburgh-area schools and community groups designed to help educate young people in surrounding communities about the Negro Leagues, its ties to Pittsburgh, and the significant influence it has had on the game of baseball. The presentation aims to create an awareness of Pittsburgh as a hub for Negro Leagues baseball during the first half of the 20th century, and the fact it was one of only two cities in the country to host two Negro Leagues teams – the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords. Those teams were two of the most historic Negro League teams of all time and featured stars such as Josh Gibson, Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige, James Thomas “Cool Papa” Bell and Buck Leonard. On February 13th, the Pirates are partnering with the Heinz History Center, Josh Gibson Foundation, and Carnegie Museum of Art to host an engaging panel discussion moderated by Pittsburgh Pirates play-by-play announcer Joe Block to examine the legacy and impact of the Negro Leagues.
- San Francisco Giants – Partnering with San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) on their production of 'Toni Stone,' (1st woman to play professional baseball as a member of the Negro Leagues’ Indianapolis Clowns as well as the San Francisco Sea Lions and other Negro League teams). On June 27th, the Giants will hold their annual African American Heritage celebration which will feature a gate giveaway commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Negro Leagues with a San Francisco Sea Lions hat. The Club will also honor former players and their families with ties to the Negro Leagues.
- Seattle Mariners – On June 20th, the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals will wear uniforms of the Negro Leagues Seattle Steelheads and Kansas City Monarchs. A special ticket offer will include a #42 cap and a donation to the United Negro College Fund. It is also the Mariners 10th Annual African-American Heritage Day. Mariners players of African-American descent will participate in a pregame Breaking Barriers panel discussion and notable members of the greater Seattle area will be honored during a pregame ceremony.
- Texas Rangers – The Club will sponsor a trip for participants of the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy to visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.
- Washington Nationals – Every Nationals home game will feature in-game content to support the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues. The June 25th Nationals game will feature tributes to specific players, highlight the accomplishments of the Homestead Grays and outline the impact of the league on the game of baseball.
- Additionally, the following Clubs will host a special tribute game to the Negro Leagues:
- San Diego Padres – April 15th
- Atlanta Braves – April 17th
- Baltimore Orioles – May 9th
- Milwaukee Brewers – July 24th