The Stories of Black Baseball

Black people have always been a part of baseball. Their stories show us how they have faced unfair challenges to change the game, strengthen civil rights, and make the world a more just place for everyone. 

MOOKIE BETTS

Illistration of Mookie Betts

 

 

 

 

T-shirt worn by Mookie Betts that says We need more Black people at the stadium

Mookie donated the t-shirt he wore to batting practice for the July 2022 All Star Game. He has actively worked to draw more Black people to baseball, and this shirt showed his commitment to that goal.

 

 

Jackie Robinson batting, catcher and homeplate umpire are also pictured

Jackie Robinson batted .311 for his 10-year career.

 

On April 15, 1947, Jackie broke the color barrier in baseball, becoming the first African-American player in the 20th century to play pro baseball.  

Mo'ne Davis

Illustration of Mo'ne Davis

 

 

 

Steve Bandura, the founder/coach of the Anderson Monarchs, former HOF President Jeff Idelson, Mo'ne Davis and Former Negro Leagues pitcher Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, one of just three women in play in the Negro Leagues

 

Mo'ne donated a jersey she wore at the 2014 Little League Baseball World Series to the Hall of Fame. Davis became the first female pitcher to win a game at the Little League World Series, pitching a two-hit shutout for her team against a team from Nashville.

She is now pursuing her Master’s Degree at Columbia University and continues to serve as a role model in many ways off the field.

READ MORE

 

In 1878, Bud is thought to have become the first Black player in pro baseball, claiming that he played for teams from 22 states and Canada. He also is well-known as a manager and founder of Black “barnstorming” teams, which were teams that traveled around the country to play local teams mostly in small towns. 

Page Fence Giants train car

Black baseball pioneer Bud Fowler played for – among other teams – the Page Fence Giants, a top pre-Negro Leagues team of the 19th century that also featured future Hall of Famer Sol White. The team traveled by train in a car that advertised the team.

CANNON STREET YMCA ALL-STARS

Illustration of Cannon Steet YMCA All-Stars

 

 

Even though they made it to the 1955 Little League World Series, the Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars were not allowed to compete because they had won by all other teams forfeiting rather than play against a Black team. The crowd there that day chanted, “Let them play! Let them play!” in support, but the All-Stars were only allowed to watch. 

 

WE PLAY!

Geared for students ages 8-12, this online interactive delivers the story of Black baseball and its role in the Civil Rights Movement. 

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

CHECK OUT MORE LEGENDS OF BLACK BASEBALL

Hank Aaron is just one of the legends enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Explore them all! 

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

Baseball and Civil Rights

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).

Baseball has been and still is an important part of civil rights work in America, both on and off the field.  Find out how they are connected!

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

The objects, baseball cards, photos, and interviews that have been collected, are links to stories of the people they represent, what they accomplished - on and off the field - and the ways they helped make the world a better place for all people.  

THE NEW EXHIBIT

The The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball opens on Saturday, May 25, in the Yawkey Gallery. In celebration of the opening Museum admission will be FREE that day courtesy of The Players Alliance.  

EDUCATION AND OUTREACH PROGRAMS

Tell the grown-ups!

We are adding more to this site as well as programs that visit New York schools to give you hands-on fun while learning about Black baseball.

Your caregivers and teachers can find out more here.

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

The Bisignano Family