Four former presidents kick off celebration of Negro Leagues' 100th anniversary


Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter are lending their voices to an important baseball milestone: the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Negro Leagues.

The four ex-presidents kicked off the “Tip Your Cap” campaign on Monday, which asks baseball fans to take a photo or short video of themselves tipping their caps in honor of the talented players and civil rights heroes of the Negro Leagues.

The Negro Leagues were formed in response to the exclusion of Black players in Major League Baseball. Multiple Black amateur and professional teams had been formed before 1920, but that’s the year the Negro National League formed and began play. A number of baseball’s greatest stars came through the Negro Leagues before making it to Major League Baseball — or before MLB would allow them in. Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Roy Campanella, and Satchel Page all played in the Negro Leagues.

The “Tip Your Cap” campaign is being directed by Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. Numerous in-person celebrations had been planned to commemorate the anniversary of the Negro Leagues, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the museum to find a virtual way for people to celebrate such an important baseball anniversary.

The campaign is already picking up steam. Michael Jordan, Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker, retired four-star general and first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, women’s sports pioneer Billie Jean King, and broadcaster Bob Costas have all tipped their caps in tribute of the Negro Leagues.

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Originally published