LOS ANGELES — Major League Baseball can trace its history back to the 1800s but isn’t the only professional league with a significant history.
The Negro Leagues operated from 1920 until the early 60s, providing a home for African American players prohibited from playing in the MLB. 2020 marked an important anniversary: the Negro Leagues’ centennial.
What You Need To Know
- Major League Baseball can trace its history back to the 1800s
- This past year marked the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Negro Leagues
- An official celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues’ founding had to be canceled due to the pandemic
- In its place, the Negro Leagues Museum launched the campaign #TipYourCap2020
An official celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues’ founding had to be canceled due to the pandemic. In its place, the Negro Leagues Museum launched the campaign #TipYourCap2020.
"I couldn’t be prouder to see so many people rally around what we all thought was this crazy idea of tipping their cap to the Negro Leagues in this virtual capacity," said Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Museum. "That we would get the likes of Michael Jordan, Bob Costas, and General Colin Powell, and four generations of Robinson women… tipping their cap in memory of the Negro Leagues and in honor of Jackie Robinson."
The goal of the campaign is simple: to tip your cap to the Negro Leagues to commemorate all the African American baseball players who were denied even the chance to play in the MLB.
Some other notable individuals who sent in photos or videos of them tipping their cap included Derek Jeter, Magic Johnson, Astronaut Chris Cassidy who was aboard the International Space Station in his video, and four former U.S. presidents: George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter.
"To have those remarkable leaders of this country offer their tip of their cap to the Negro Leagues, I think it sends a resounding message," Kendrick said. "Baseball is again finding a way to unify us where color wears no significance in the people who are tipping their cap."
Many Dodgers also have ties to the Negro Leagues — including 1962 National League MVP Maury Wills, who was inducted into the Negro Leagues Museum’s “Hall of Games,” recognizing players who competed with the same passion, determination, and skill exhibited by the heroes of the Negro Leagues.
"When Jackie Robinson came into Major League Baseball, brought in by the Dodgers, I knew that’s where I wanted to go," Wills said. "I spent 8 ½ years in the Minor Leagues... in areas where I couldn’t stay in hotels where my teammates were in. I couldn’t eat in restaurants where they ate. But that’s alright. I wanted to go where Jackie was, and I was willing to pay the price."
Kendrick believes the Negro Leagues' legacy will live on through the Museum as a caretaker of its history.
"The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is one of the most important cultural institutions in the world for the important work that we’re doing to document and substantiate a once-forgotten chapter of baseball and Americana," he said. "The Negro Leagues helped change the game, but most importantly, it helped change our country."
In a recent win for Kendrick and the Negro Leagues, the MLB announced in December 2020 that it’s 'correcting a longtime oversight' by now choosing to recognize the Negro Leagues as Major League, and adding the Negro Leagues’ stats and records to the MLB’s history.
For more information on how to get involved with #TipYourCap2020 visit the campaign’s official website.