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 news conference at the Paseo YMCA in Kansas City, Mo. – the location where the Negro National League was founded on Feb. 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, Mo., 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 leads 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 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 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 June 27, 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 27. 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 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 Saturday, and the Hank Aaron Invitational, a development experience designed to serve underrepresented high school age players operated by MLB, the MLBPA and USA Baseball 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, Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien on Willie Wells and New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman on Wilber “Bullet Joe” Rogan, 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 June 27 at 10 a.m. ET. MLB.com and MLB social media platforms also will highlight Negro Leagues players as well as league and club activities. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has designated a special anniversary hashtag to be used on social media – #NegroLeagues100.