On Monday, Former presidents, civil rights leaders, entertainers and sports greats gave a virtual salute to the 100-year anniversary of the Negro Leagues.
The league was founded in 1920 as the Negro National League by legendary African-American pitcher, Rube Foster.
The campaign launched with photos and videos from Hank Aaron, Rachel Robinson, Derek Jeter, Colin Powell, Michael Jordan, Obama and former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter at tippingyourcap.com.
The Negro Leagues deep talent rosters are the stuff of legend. Players like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, “Cool Papa” Bell and Jackie Robinson have been immortalized.
Robinson, who began with the Kansas City Monarchs, went on to break the color barrier in the major leagues with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
Not long after, with many of its best players gradually following Robinson’s path, the Negro Leagues ceased operations.
A Famous Legacy
As part of the tribute, singer Tony Bennett showed his heart by tipping a San Francisco Giants cap. Californian Billie Jean King opted for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
President Clinton chose a Chicago Cubs cap in a video honoring Ernie Banks, the late Hall of Famer who got his start in the Negro Leagues.
“This cap is for Hillary, too, when finally, the Cubs won the championship,” Clinton said in reference to his wife, a Chicago native and former Democratic presidential candidate.
“Long before that, the Negro Leagues made baseball better and America better.”
The celebration was moved online after a major league-wide tribute to baseball’s Black pioneers scheduled for June 27 was shelved along with MLB games.
This was yet another result of the coronavirus pandemic.
A History Curated & Solidified
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick worried that his plan to honor the men and women would be postponed.
“In our game, there’s nothing more honorable than tipping your cap,” Kendrick said to ESPN.
“And once I realized that national day of recognition was going to fall by the wayside, I thought, ‘OK, maybe we can do it next year.’ But that didn’t really do it. So then I thought, ‘How about a virtual tip of the cap?”
Negro League star, the late Buck O’Neil, was the driving force behind the museum for decades. The NLBM has expanded several times since Rube Foster founded the Negro Leagues at a YMCA in 1920.
Thanks to the NLBM, the rich legacy of the Negro Leagues will continue to echo. Not with the swing of a bat but with a virtual tip of a cap.