MLB, MLBPA Builds Negro Leagues Museum Legacy With $1M Donation
Friday, June 23, 2017 at 05:02PM
NYSportsJournalism.com in MLB, MLB, MLBPA, Negro Leagues, Negro Leagues Museum

Special to NYSportsJournalism.com

June 22, 2017: A vital and significant part of baseball history has received major support from MLB and the MLB Players Assn., which this week jointly contributed $1 million to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, MO.

According to MLB and MLBPA, "The grant will strive to inspire future generations of minority youth to play baseball by helping to ensure the Museum’s sustainability as the preservationists of the history of the Negro Leagues as well as the memory and legacies of those who played." 
 
The contribution was made by MLBPA executive director Tony Clark and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred during a ceremony at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

The contribution will be allocated from the Youth Development Foundation, which is jointly administered by the MLBPA and MLB, and will be ear-marked to support the NLBM’s operations, museum services, expansion and educational and community programming, according to MLB and MLBPA.

A portion of the funds will allow the Museum to complete the Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center on the site of the Paseo YMCA, where the original Negro Leagues charter was signed in 1920.

"It’s an honor to represent the players in providing this grant to the Museum to help ensure that the Negro Leagues and their players will never be forgotten," Clark said during media conference. "Today’s players are committed to providing opportunities for underserved populations to play baseball, and we all believe the Negro Leagues’ storied history can play an important role in our game’s future by inspiring minority youth to play the sport we all love."

According to Manfred, "Major League Baseball and our 30 clubs are proud to support the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s mission of bringing this significant era of our game’s history to life. Because of the sacrifices and triumphs of the men and women of the Negro Leagues, the Museum is an inspirational experience for fans of any age.

"We appreciate the Museum’s contributions to baseball and the role it can play in encouraging young people to become a part of our game."

The growth of the Museum and its presence throughout baseball has been a reflection of the growing interest in the Negro Leagues and the importance and impact its players have had on the game and in America.

The Museum was founded in 1990, originally contained within a one room office in Kansas City. It currently utilizes 10,000 square feet of space to preserve and tell the history of the Negro Leagues and players.

It features multimedia computer stations, several film exhibits, hundreds of photographs, a replica field with 12 bronze sculptures and a growing collection of baseball artifacts.

Among the players, coaches, managers, executives, teams and others who are honored in the Museum are Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, James "Cool Papa" Bell, Joe Black, Larry Doby, Andrew "Rube" Foster, Josh Gibson, Walter "Buck" Leonard, Willie Mays, John "Buck" O’Neil, LeRoy "Satchel" Paige, Jackie Robinson, the Birmingham Black Barons, Kanas City Monarchs, New York Black Yankees and Homestead Grays.
 
"On behalf of the board and staff of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the surviving Negro Leagues players, I would like to thank the Major League Baseball Players Assn. and Major League Baseball for their generosity and continued support," NLBM president Bob Kendrick said during the media conference,

"The Negro Leagues played an important role in not only changing the game, but America, too. This significant grant allows us to continue to preserve, educate and celebrate a once-forgotten but compelling chapter of American history. It also gives us the wherewithal to use this compelling story as a tool to inspire future generations to 'play ball!'" said Kendrick.

The Museum follows the timeline of the first African-Americans began to play professional baseball in the late 1800s on teams derived from the military, collegiate institutions and businesses such as hotels.

Racism and "Jim Crow" laws forced them around 1900 to form their own “barnstorming” teams around the country to play anyone who would challenge them.
 
In 1920, an organized league structure was formed under the guidance of  "Rube" Foster, a former player, manager and owner for the Chicago American Giants.

In a meeting held at the Paseo YMCA in Kansas City, Mo., Foster and a other Midwestern team owners joined to form the Negro National League.

Rival leagues formed in Eastern and Southern states, bringing the thrills and innovative play of black baseball to major urban centers and rural countrysides in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America.

Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 was a historic event and a key moment in baseball and civil rights history. It also was a catalyst in the decline of the Negro Leagues, according to the Museum, as top players were recruited for MLB teams.
 
The last Negro Leagues teams folded in the early 1960s.

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