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MLB Should Be Doing More To Celebrate The 100th Anniversary of the Negro Leagues

There are a number of reasons why it was overlooked, but MLB‘s announcement of a joint $1 million donation with the MLBPA to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and every team wearing a uniform patch honoring the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro Leagues on June 27 was overlooked. Worse than being overlooked, it is not enough.

Major League Baseball owed the Negro Leagues a debt of gratitude for producing players like Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron. They also owe players like Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell an apology for never being able to prove they were the greatest on the biggest stage in the world.

In baseball history, the Negro Leagues are both a source of pride and shame. The pride comes from their proving anyone, no matter their background, race, or heritage, can be great at baseball. The shame is that another league needed to be created to prove this because of the disturbingly named “Gentleman’s Agreement” to keep black players out of baseball.

Because of that decision, we missed out on seeing the great careers of many black players. We did not get to see Satchel Paige face batters in a Major League Game until he was 41 years old. Think about that. At a time when he should have been retiring, he was just a rookie. All because of the agreement to keep black players out of baseball.

With that decision, not only did the black players lose, but we, as fans, and historians of the game lost. Much like we ponder how Pedro Martinez would have fared against players like Lou Gehrig, we are left to wonder how Smokey Joe Williams would have fared against Babe Ruth.

The obvious difference between the two were Williams and Ruth were contemporaries. They should have faced each other in a game, or quite possibly, have been teammates. However, they couldn’t because of small minded people. That necessitated the creation of the Negro Leagues, and for that, we should eternally grateful for the Negro Leagues as they kept baseball alive in the black community.

For a number of reasons, that is something baseball is struggling to do. For years now, baseball has tried to regrow the game in the black community, and it bemoans how few black players there are. Last year, USA Today noted only 7.7% of players were black, there were 11 teams who did not have more than one black player, and three teams who dd not have one black player.

One of those three teams was Jackie Robinson’s Dodgers. Of course, that does overlook their manager, Dave Roberts, and that has changed with the Dodgers obtaining Mookie Betts and David Price from the Boston Red Sox.

Perhaps the next time MLB questions why there are so few fans, they should focus their attention to what they are doing to drive interest in the game. Better put, they should focus on what they are not doing.

This year, they are not doing all they can do to honor the Negro Leagues. The Negro Leagues are an extremely important part of baseball history. In the centennial celebration of the founding of the Negro Leagues, Major League Baseball needed to do more than Jackie Robinson Day on April 15, and Negro Leagues Day on June 27.

This needs to be a year-round celebration. If it wasn’t already planned, MLB should make a push to promote and celebrate players like Betts, Price, Marcus Stroman, and many more players. In addition to donating $1 million the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, they should be hiring former players like Curtis Granderson to find ways to reach out and grow the game.

After all, Granderson has done his part to help grow the game through his charitable endeavors. In fact, he helped build Illinois’ baseball stadium, which is used not just for the college’s baseball team but also for youth events.

The 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues should be celebrated and used as an opportunity to grow the game. It demanded much more than $1 million, which is a paltry sum from MLB and the MLBPA, and more than just a day. This should be a year long celebration with patches appearing on the jerseys of every Major League team throughout the season.

This isn’t just an opportunity to honor and frankly apologize to baseball legends. No, it is also an opportunity to educate and grow the game. By not investing more in the Negro Leagues memory, using this as a launching pad to invest more in the game at the youth level, and not honoring these players all year long, baseball is missing an opportunity here.

Baseball needs to be better and do better. In that sense, perhaps that is the best way to remember the Negro Leagues because it would never have existed in the first place if people were better and strived to do better.

10 thoughts on “MLB Should Be Doing More To Celebrate The 100th Anniversary of the Negro Leagues”

  1. Oldbackstop says:

    How much would they have to do for you to say they are doing too much?

    Asking for a friend…

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Why would your concern possibly be doing too much?

      1. Oldbackstop says:

        Read the question. The question is, what would it take for you to write a story that MLB went overboard….did too much. Is there ANY amount of contrition, largesse, benevolence, and money they could throw at it and you would be satisfied?

        Asking for a snowflake.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          It’s a nonsense question not deserving of an answer.

  2. oldbackstop says:

    No, it precisely points out your laziness as a writer. You take an extreme position but are left slackjawed when asked specifics. For instance, you heap criticsm on JD Davis, and I ask a simple question — what would you do as a rookie called up in a pennant race. No answer.

    Here….no answer.

    You are intellectually lazy and take childish positions….it is like Bernie, everything should be free, damn the details.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      My not taking the bait on stupid questions doesn’t speak to my purported laziness.

      It speaks to my refusal to give attention to race baited questions.

      1. Oldbackstop says:

        I see. Where are you on slave Reparations, since your white guilt seems a bottomless pit?

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Definitely a pattern with you

  3. James says:

    Re: J.G. Taylor Spink sportswriting wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame. NAME CHANGE???
    Ironically, Mr. Spink was a staunch segregationist and the Baseball Writers Association of America barred black sportswriters.
    “Baseball is the American success story.
    A great common ground on which bartenders and bishops, clergymen and bosses, bankers and laborers meet with true equality and understanding. The game has proved in everyday language that democracy works.”
    J. G. TAYLOR SPINK
    Editor of The Sporting News
    and yet
    …he stated there “was no good” to come from raising the race issue.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      That’s an interesting idea

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