Meet the Team

To develop this initiative, the Hall of Fame has fostered new partnerships and expanded on existing relationships with cultural and historical institutions around the country, including the formation of an Advisory Committee with representation from Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association, the Smithsonian Institution, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, The Players Alliance and others. In addition to our talented staff here in Cooperstown, we are working with a group of curatorial consultants with expertise in Black baseball history to help provide an authentic perspective in the development of the project. 


Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters, Washington University  Gerald Early is the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters in the African and African American Studies Department at Washington University in St. Louis, where he has taught since 1982.He is currently the interim director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Equity. He was previously the chair of the African and African American Studies Department (2014-2021). He is also the executive editor of The Common Reader, Washington University’s new interdisciplinary journal that is published under the auspices of the Provost’s office.

Early is a noted essayist and American culture critic. His collections of essays include Tuxedo Junction: Essays on American Culture (1989); The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, and Modern American Culture, which won the 1994 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism; This is Where I Came In: Essays on Black America in the 1960s (2003), and, most recently, A Level-Playing Field: African American Athletes and the Republic of Sports (2011). He is also the author of Daughters: On Family and Fatherhood (1994).

His anthologies include The Cambridge Companion to Boxing (2019); Approaches to Teaching Baraka’s Dutchman (2018, with Matthew Calihman); The Sammy Davis, Jr. Reader (2001); Miles Davis and American Culture (2001); The Muhammad Ali Reader (1998); Ain’t But a Place: An Anthology of African American Writings About St. Louis (1998): and Body Language: Writers on Sport (1998). Early is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Associate Professor of History, Kent State University at Stark Leslie Heaphy is an associate professor of history at Kent State University at Stark. She has taught at Kent since 1995. Her courses include public history courses, a variety of American history classes, Asian history classes, a Negro leagues history class and overseeing all history internships at all 8 campuses of Kent. She has won a wide variety of teaching awards. She has served on the Board for SABR since 2010 and VP since 2016. Dr. Heaphy also serves on the board for the IWBC and chairs SABR’s women in baseball committee. She is the conference chair for the annual SABR/IWBC Women in baseball conference. Her publications include The Negro Leagues 1869-1960; Encyclopedia of Women in Baseball; editor of Black Ball since it started in 2010 as well as dozens of articles and book chapters on the Negro Leagues, women’s baseball and the NYMets. She regularly presents on and is interviewed for stories on the Negro Leagues. Dr. Heaphy has served on two National Baseball Hall of Fame committees that together elected 19 Negro Leaguers to the Hall (2006 and 2021).

President/CEO, NoirTech Research, Inc. Larry Lester is a Negro league baseball author, historian, statistical researcher, and lecturer. He cofounded the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) in Kansas City, Missouri, and served as its Research Director, Senior Editor, and Treasurer from 1991 to 1995. He was described as "a driving force in the NLBM's licensing program" that generated $1.4 million in its start-up years. Through 2021, he served as the chairman of the Society for American Baseball Research's Negro League Committee, which hosts the annual Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference, a symposium dedicated exclusively to the examination and promotion of black baseball history.

Through using available black and white photographs as guides, doing research of archival newspapers, and conducting interviews of former players, Lester discovered the authentic Negro league colors and designs, allowing apparel manufacturers to reproduce retro-vintage caps, jerseys, and jackets. The NLBM licenses generated approximately $6,000,000 in sales in 1992, with Major League Baseball Properties producing $2.4 billion.

Lester founded NoirTech Research, an internet-based company, in 1995. It provides sports scholarships to the news media, professional sports teams, educational institutions, museums, corporations, libraries, and churches. He co-chaired the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's Out of the Shadows Negro Leagues Baseball Research program and served on the Hall of Fame's Special Negro Leagues Committee which inducted a record 17 Negro Leaguers in 2006.

Professor of English, Stony Brook University Rowan Ricardo Phillips is the author of three books of poetry and two books of nonfiction –The Ground, Heaven, Living Weapon, The Circuit, and When Blackness Rhymes with Blackness––all published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. I Just Want Them to Remember Me: Black Baseball in America, also from FSG, will be published in 2024. His screenplay for the film Clemente, based on Pulitzer-Prize winner David Maraniss’ biography of baseball icon Roberto Clemente, Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero, is set to be directed by Oscar-winner Ezra Edelman. Phillips has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers’ Award, the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sportswriting, the Pen/Joyce Osterweil Prize for Poetry, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Nicolás Guillén Outstanding Book Award, and the GLCA New Writers Award. He has also been a finalist for the National Book Award, Griffin International Poetry Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry, the PEN Open Book Award, and the NAACP Image Award for Poetry. A prodigious sportswriter, Phillips has written on sports for The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The New Republic, and The Paris Review. His basketball writing has been collected by The Library of America’s seminal collection on the sport, Basketball: Great Writing About America’s Game. His books have been named a book of the year by The Washington Post, NPR, The Guardian (UK), and The Australian Review of Books, among others. He is the Poetry Editor of The New Republic, the President of the Board of The New York Institute of the Humanities, on the board of Aspen Words, and a Professor of English at Stony Brook University. He divides his time between New York City and Barcelona.

Professor, University of Pittsburgh Rob Ruck is an historian at the University of Pittsburgh, where he teaches and writes about sport. He focuses on how people use sport to tell a collective story about who they are to themselves and to the world. His books include Sandlot Seasons: Sport in Black Pittsburgh (1987), The Tropic of Baseball: Baseball in the Dominican Republic (1991), Rooney: A Sporting Life (2010) and Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game (2011). His documentaries, Kings on the Hill: Baseball’s Forgotten Men (1993) and The Republic of Baseball: Dominican Giants of the American Game (2006), appeared on PBS. He is currently working on Songs of a Lost Island, a film about Samoans and football with Adam Sjoeberg and Troy and Theodora Polamalu. His most recent book is Tropic of Football: The Long and Perilous Journey of Samoans to the NFL. Rob served on the 2006 Hall of Fame committee that voted people from the Caribbean and Negro Leagues to the Hall of Fame and was on the working group that created ¡Viva Baseball!, a permanent exhibit at the Hall of Fame.

Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee includes a number of Hall of Famers, players, historians, and others from the baseball family, including:


A 22-year MLB veteran who played for five teams, Harold Baines spent a majority of his career with the Chicago White Sox as an outfielder and designated hitter. He finished his career with 2,866 hits and 384 home runs and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019.



Andre Dawson spent 21 years in the majors with the Montreal Expos, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox and Florida Marlins. He was an eight time All-Star and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1987. Dawson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.



After 22 years in the majors, mostly with the Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds, Ken Griffey Jr. sits seventh all-time in career homers with 630. He was a 13-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove Award winner in center field, a seven-time Silver Slugger Award winner and the 1997 American League Most Valuable Player. Griffey was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.



Fergie Jenkins amassed 284 wins and a 3.34 ERA over 19 seasons in the majors. He led MLB four times in complete games and finished top five in Cy Young voting five times, including winning the 1971 NL Cy Young Award. Jenkins was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.



During a streak of seven-straight All-Star appearances with the Montreal Expos, Tim Raines recorded at least 70 stolen bases in six years and swiped a high of 90 bags in 1983. Over his 23-year career, Raines batted .294 and stole 808 bases. Raines was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.



When Lee Smith retired in 1997 after 18 years in the majors, he stood atop the MLB’s list all-time in saves. He held a career 3.03 ERA and was a three-time Reliever of the Year winner. Smith’s 478 career saves earned him induction into the Hall of Fame in 2019.



Ozzie Smith was one of baseball’s best defenders during his 19 year career, winning 13 straight Gold Glove Awards. He played 15 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and helped them win the World Series in 1982, his first season with the team. Smith was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.



Dave Winfield was 12-time All-Star, seven-time Gold Glove Awad winner and six-time Silver Slugger Award winner. His go-ahead double in Game 6 of the 1992 World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays proved to be the series clincher, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.



Tony Clark spent 15 years in the majors and garnered an All-Star appearance in 2001 with the Detroit Tigers. In December 2013, Clark was unanimously voted executive director of Major League Baseball Players Association, the first former major league player to hold the position.

Doug Glanville is a former MLB outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers. He compiled a .277 batting average over nine seasons. Glanville now is an MLB analyst on ESPN and a co-host of The Athletic’s Starkville podcast.

Edwin Jackson played for a record 14 franchises over 17 seasons in the big leagues, winning 107 games and pitching a no-hitter for the Diamondbacks on June 25, 2010. A member of the 2011 Cardinals team that won the World Series, Jackson was selected to the 2009 American League All-Star team.

Adam Jones’ 11 years with the Baltimore Orioles produced five All-Star appearances, four Gold Glove Awards and a Silver Slugger Award. He played an additional two years with the Seattle Mariners to start his career and ended his time in MLB with a season with the Arizona Diamondbacks before starring for the champion United States team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

A first-round draft choice out of high school by the Tigers in 1972, Jerry Manuel played five big league seasons as an infielder before becoming one of the most respected coaches and managers in the game. Skippering the White Sox from 1998-2003, he led Chicago to first or second place finishes in five of those six seasons, including winning the AL Central title in 2000. He managed the Mets from 2008-10 and served as a bench coach for Team USA during the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

Dave Stewart played 16 years in the majors, winning three World Series and a World Series MVP in 1989. After his playing career, Stewart spent time as an agent and as an assistant GM among several organizations and was the Arizona Diamondbacks GM for two seasons in 2015 and 2016.


Adrian Burgos, Jr. is a professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he specializes in US Latino History, Sport History, Urban History and African American History. He has written multiple books on the intersection of baseball and culture and contributed to the Hall of Fame’s Viva Baseball! exhibit.

Ray Doswell is the executive director of Greenwood Rising Black Wall Street History Center, a state-of-the-art history center honoring the legacy of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Okla. He was formerly vice president of curatorial services for Kansas City’s acclaimed Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

Bob Kendrick has been the president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum since 2011 and has been with the museum since joining as the Director of Marketing in 1998. The Kansas City museum has seen a $20 million turnaround under Kendrick’s leadership.

Joe Posnanski currently writes for his blog, JoeBlogs, and previously was a columnist for the Kansas City Star, NBC Sports and He was twice named best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors and was the 2012 National Sportswriter of the Year for the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

Claire Smith has been a pioneer within the baseball community for 40 years. She was the first female to cover a major-league baseball beat full-time, covering the New York Yankees for the Hartford Courant for half a decade before becoming the second national baseball columnist in the country. In December 2016, she was named the 68th recipient of the Baseball Writers' Association of America’s Career Excellence Award, becoming the first woman to be honored with the award. 

Gretchen Sullivan Sorin is the director of the Cooperstown Graduate Program, an academic division of SUNY College at Oneonta where students are enrolled in Science Museum Studies or History Museum Studies. Her expertise is in exhibition development, and Sorin has been a consultant to over 200 different museums. 

Damion Thomas is the Museum Curator of Sports for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. He is also a published author and speaker.


April Brown is the MLB Vice President of Social Responsibility. In her position, Brown works with charitable initiatives and the league’s philanthropic partnerships.

Michael Hill took over as the president of baseball operations for the Miami Marlins after the 2013 season, the first Cuban-American president of baseball operations. In 2021, Hill was named senior vice president of on-field operations for MLB.

Bill Janetschek is a philanthropist and retired CFO of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. Bill is also part of the Miami Marlins ownership group. He is a longtime supporter of the Museum and has funded projects including the Whole New Ballgame exhibit in the Janetschek Gallery.

Lonnie Murray was the first and is currently the only Black woman certified as a player agent by the MLBPA. Murray joined the staff of her husband Dave Stewart’s agent firm, Sports Management Partners, and was certified by the MLBPA in 2015.

Tony Reagins was the general manager of the Los Angeles Angels from 2007-2011. He was the fourth Black GM in MLB history and is a member of the Buck O’Neil Scout Association.

The New Exhibit

Souls of the Game logo

Located in the Yawkey Gallery, The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball will spotlight 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, revealing the deep connections between baseball and Black America.