Thursday, March 21st, 2019

Negro Leagues: New Postage Stamp Series Unveiled

The US Postal Service has unveiled a new stamp series honoring baseball’s Negro League players.

Almost all of them are gone now, fading memories kept alive through grainy photos and dog-eared newspaper clippings their children and grandchildren keep near.

But now the black baseball players and their contributions to the culture and history of a country that once shunned them are being honored. The U.S. Postal Service released a set of stamps Thursday honoring early Negro Leagues players.

“Make no mistake about it. All these athletes were trailblazers on and off the field,” said Gregory D. Baker, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. “Through their unsung civic endeavors, the (Negro) leagues and their players raised awareness and started a conversation about the standards of social justice in our country for all people regardless of race or gender.”

The Negro Leagues were formed in 1920 by Rube Foster, a visionary black athlete, manager and businessman. In their heyday, they were both popular and profitable, drawing white and black fans alike to see such greats as Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and “Cool Papa” Bell.

“The 2,600 men and women who played in the Negro Leagues embodied the essence of our country,” Baker told several hundred people who packed the museum’s legends room. “They celebrated the notion that regardless of where you come from or your financial or social status, each of us can make a difference.”

Read the rest of the article here…

See story of the famed Negro team, the Homestead Grays,  below

Beyond the Shadow of the Senators : The Untold Story of the Homestead Grays and the Integration of Baseball by Brad Snyder

Snyder looks at the roots of Jackie Robinson’s integration of major league baseball, but examines that historic event from a variety of angles. This well-documented and enjoyable account illuminates the life of Sam Lacy, a crusading black journalist for a Washington, D.C., black weekly, and his efforts to force major league baseball to integrate. But the book is also a fascinating and largely untold story about the unholy but profitable alliance between Clark Griffith, owner of the Washington Senators, and the dynamic but shady Negro League team owner Cum Posey, founder of the Homestead Grays, a storied Negro League franchise founded in Pittsburgh. Using the burgeoning black middle class of WWII Washington, D.C., as a social backdrop, Snyder details how Negro League owners like Posey allied themselves financially with white Major League owners, renting segregated Major League ballparks (at exorbitant rates) for their Negro League teams while the white teams were on the road. The practice became particularly profitable in Washington after Posey moved his Homestead Grays (and such black stars as Buck Leonard and Josh Gibson) to D.C. from Pittsburgh in 1940. Disgusted by the Senators’ racist owners and the team’s inept play, black fans flocked to the pennant-winning Grays’ games, which outdrew the Senators’ games. Snyder also sketches the lives of great players like Buck Leonard with great sensitivity, insight and historical context. The book tells two stories: one is how the Griffiths, a legendary baseball family, killed baseball in Washington, D.C., through their own narrow-minded greed and racism; the other is the story of Lacy and Wendell Smith, his fellow black Hall of Fame sportswriter, and the extraordinary black athletes of the Negro Leagues and their determination to play baseball at its highest level.

Source: Publisher’s Weekly

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