WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Before Jackie Robinson became the first black player in Major League Baseball in 1947, some of the greatest ballplayers of all time, who happened to be black, played in the Negro Leagues due to segregation.
The Negro National League was founded by Andrew “Rube” Foster in 1920, with teams such as the Homestead Grays, Birmingham Black Barons and St. Louis Stars.
It featured stars in Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, James “Cool Papa” Bell and many more. Gibson, Paige and Bell all made the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Bell would never play a game in MLB, though Gibson and Paige eventually did.
“These players never cried about social injustice, they went and did something about it,” said Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
To honor them, congressional baseball fans, Republican and Democrat, are supporting a bill that would direct the U.S. Treasury to mint a commemorative coin marking the Negro League’s 100th anniversary.
“So people understand about the adversity and just the spectacular accomplishment of these players,” said Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), who’s behind the bipartisan bill.
“Make sure that the legacy of the Negro League plays on long after there are no more Negro League players left,” Kendrick said.
If passed, the coins would raise awareness about the players and raise proceeds for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.