Minor League Baseball to commemorate Negro Leagues 100th anniversary

Minor League Baseball unveiled a new logo today that signals their participation in commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues. The Negro National League was founded by Hall of Famer Rube Foster 100 years ago today, on February 13, 1920.

MiLB will partner with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the Josh Gibson Foundation throughout the 2020 season and beyond to mark the contributions of African Americans to the sport. MiLB’s commemorative logo features colors that reflect African history and culture, and the traditional “batterman” icon is set in cream, a color found in many historic Negro Leagues team logos.

“The 100th anniversary of the birth of the Negro Leagues is one of the most significant occurrences not only in baseball history, but American history,” added Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, quoted on MiLB.com. “Our partnership will introduce, and hopefully enlighten, fans to America’s unsung heroes who overcame tremendous social adversity to play baseball.”

On a personal level, I have had the privilege of visiting the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City on two separate occasions, and I have twice interviewed the museum’s president, Bob Kendrick, including once for an article on this site about the museum’s 100th anniversary logo. Kendrick is an amazing spokesperson not just for the history of the Negro Leagues, but for the game of baseball at large. Additionally, the museum is a fascinating exploration of the history of the leagues and their continued influence today.

While many baseball historians tell the story of the Negro Leagues in the context of Jackie Robinson’s 1947 integration of Major League Baseball, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum details the significance of Black baseball prior to integration, not just in the sport of baseball but in Black communities and society at large, specifically the Civil Rights movement.

“This story itself is America at her worst, but also America at her triumphal best,” Kendrick said when I was at the museum in Kansas City last September. “This story could have only happened in the United States of America. It is anchored in the ugliness of American segregation, which was certainly a horrible chapter in America’s history, but I think more importantly, what emerged out of segregation—this wonderful story of triumph of conquest…. As people delve into this story and see how deep and layered it really is, this is not a baseball story, this story is so much more profound than the game of baseball itself, and ultimately that is what people gain in this experience.”

The museum will spearhead commemorative activities associated with the anniversary, and of course we’ll track all of the related goings-on in minor league baseball this season.