What was going to be a huge celebration in baseball this year, has been like many things affected by COVID-19. As Major League Baseball looks to come back for a shortened season, they also looked for a way to recognize the rich history of the Negro Baseball Leagues who celebrate 100 years this year.
The Tip Your Cap campaign, which is being directed by Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick, is intended to bring long-overdue recognition and respect to the enormously talented and courageous men and women who played in the Negro Leagues from 1920 through 1960. The campaign was conceived when long-planned centennial events in major league stadiums across the country were canceled due to COVID-19, and the response has been extraordinary.
In the 1920s leagues like the Southern Negro League, Eastern Color League and the Negro National League formed to give black baseball players a place to play America’s favorite pastime. When the market crashed and the Great Depression settled in many went away for a few years. In 1937 the Negro American League formed and was basically a West Coast League. The Negro National League was East Coast targeted. Neither were related business-wise.
Some of the great Negro teams in the South included:
- KC Monarchs
- St. Louis Giants ( Later the Stars)
- Birmingham Black Barons
- Memphis Red Sox
- Nashville Elite Giants
- Louisville White Sox
- Atlanta Black Crackers
- Jacksonville Red Caps
- Baltimore Elite Giants
- Houston Eagles
- Louisville Clippers
- Raleigh Tigers
- New Orleans Crescent Stars
- Mobile Havana Cuban Giants
- Chattanooga Black Lookouts
- Chattanooga Choo Choos
As for players that played the game or got their start in Negro Leagues, the list is distinguished and in many cases familiar. Some of those players include:
- Jackie Robinson- KC Monarchs
- Satchel Page – Chattanooga Black Lookouts
- Roy Campanella- Baltimore Elite Giants
- Josh Gibson – Homestead Grays
- Willie Mays- Chatanooga Choo Choos and Birmingham Black Barons
- Hank Thompson- KC Monarchs
- Hank Aaron- Indianapolis Clowns
- Ernie Banks- KC Monarchs
The campaign is making a simple request. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is asking Americans — anytime between now and July 23rd — to submit a brief video or photo of themselves tipping their caps in honor of these sports and civil rights heroes to [email protected] and to post them on their social platforms with the hashtag #tipyourcap2020.
Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, in collaboration with civil rights hero Rachel Robinson and baseball legend Hank Aaron, have been joined by scores of baseball players and other professional athletes, sports executives, entertainers, journalists and others for an unprecedented tribute to the 100-year anniversary of the founding of baseball’s Negro Leagues.
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) is the world’s only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history of African American baseball and its impact on the social advancement of America. The privately funded, 501 c3, not-for-profit organization was established in 1990 and is in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri’s Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District.