The Black Baseball Initiative

Honoring and Celebrating the History of Black Baseball  

More Than an Exhibit

From the decades-long history of Black baseball prior to the formation of the Negro Leagues, through the complexities of baseball’s re-integration, to the challenges that remain today, the groundbreaking new exhibition, The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball will reveal the deep connections between baseball and Black America.

More importantly, and perhaps more impactful, are the outreach programs that are part of this initiative, including a new website to deliver the story of Black baseball and its role in the Civil Rights movement to students, virtual programs, grants to fund in-person visits for budget-challenged schools in our region, educational materials that can be delivered to teachers in schools outside of our region and community programs. 

And we will do all of this while celebrating Black culture through the lens of our great game.

The Black Baseball Initiative is made possible by the Yawkey Foundation with additional support from Bill Janetschek in honor of his siblings Robert and Ann, the Anthony A. Yoseloff Foundation and the Bisignano Family. 


The Black Baseball Initiative will inspire people through the stories of those who overcame seemingly insurmountable challenges to play the game they loved.

This initiative will tell a more inclusive story, reflecting the evolving diversity of the game. It will show that Black baseball was the creation of Black America and explore the deep connections between Black baseball and the Black community. Visitors will come away with a richer, deeper understanding of race and racism in baseball. The project will provide a cohesive narrative of Black baseball’s history and an exploration of the complicated relationship with baseball that Black people experienced in working for American democracy and citizenship through the game.


The project includes a new exhibit in the Yawkey Gallery, The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball will open on Saturday, May 25; and programs that are expanding our reach to communities across the country.  

Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball logo


Scheduled for Saturday, May 25, the Hall of Fame East-West Classic presented by Boeing and fueled by assistance from Major League Baseball, will feature more than two dozen former big leaguers, with Ken Griffey Jr. and Ozzie Smith among the Hall of Famers who will serve as the East and West teams’ managers and coaches. The game will be part of a weekend celebration as the Museum opens its new exhibit The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball.



East-West logo with Doubleday Field in the background


In 2024, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will honor that legacy by hosting the Hall of Fame East-West Classic: A Tribute to the Negro Leagues All-Star Game, presented by Boeing, on Saturday, May 25 at Cooperstown’s historic Doubleday Field.

Students visiting the Museum


On field trips from around Upstate New York, inner-city students have explored baseball history and been inspired by the triumphs of Black legends.



We are working with current and former Black ballplayers as well as experts in Black baseball history to delve into topics that include the segregation faced by generations of ballplayers, how segregation was sustained, the challenges that persist in the game today and the tremendous success of the most recent generation of Black baseball players, coaches and executives.


The Black Baseball Initiative is more than a new exhibit in Cooperstown. We are developing new online content as well as outreach programs that are having a positive impact on communities. 

I didn’t want them to forget Babe Ruth; but I also didn’t want them to forget Hank Aaron.

— Hank Aaron • Hall of Fame Class of 1982

Baseball and Civil Rights

Many of American history’s watershed moments, both on and off the field, illustrate how baseball was – and is – a part of our collective lives.

Museum to Host SABR’s Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference June 6-9

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will celebrate Black Baseball this spring with the opening of the groundbreaking new exhibit The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball.

And as the first visitors are experiencing the exhibit, the Society for American Baseball Research will join in the festivities by hosting the annual Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference June 6-9 in the Museum’s Grandstand Theater.

Malloy Negro League Conference logoOpen to all baseball fans, the Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference promotes activities to enhance scholarly, educational and Literary Objectives as the only symposium dedicated exclusively to the examination and promotion of Black baseball history. SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee is one of the original committees formed by the organization, which was founded in Cooperstown in 1971.

Racism is not what it was a half–century ago, but it is still present. Sports can continue to be at the forefront of progress.

— Adam Jones • Five-Time Major League All-Star

From the Collection

Adam Jones wore these cleats on April 15, 2018, to honor Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King Jr. The shoes feature the date of Robinson’s Brooklyn Dodgers debut (April 15, 1947) and King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech (August 28, 1963).

Kids are our future, and we hope baseball has given them some idea of what it is to live together and how we can get along, whether you be Black or white.

— Larry Doby • Hall of Fame Class of 1998

Learning from History

Stories that highlight the lives and experiences of Black ballplayers through key moments in history, artifacts and baseball cards.

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Heroes of Black Baseball

Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali once called Hank Aaron “The only man I idolize more than myself.” For many, Aaron was everything an athlete – and a human being – should be. 

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,” Jackie Robinson once said. The impact Robinson made on Major League Baseball is one that will be forever remembered.

Bringing Black Baseball History to Life

Learn More about the Initiative

Meet the Team

Meet the Curatorial Consultants and the members of the Advisory Committee who are helping to guide the initiative.

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The New Exhibit

The exhibit will tell a more inclusive story, reflecting the evolving diversity of the game, providing visitors with a richer, deeper understanding of race and racism in baseball.

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Education and Outreach

The initiative includes outreach programs designed to create positive impacts in communities throughout the country with new online tools, virtual and community programs, educational materials and grants to fund in-person visits.

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How to Help

Will you consider helping support this important initiative with a gift today? 

Support the Initiative