Museum Initiative to Highlight Story of Black Baseball

(COOPERSTOWN, NY) – Seventy-five years ago, Jackie Robinson changed a game, and a nation, forever. His stepping onto the diamond at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947 created a monumental shift in America’s path towards Civil Rights.

Robinson’s debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers remains one of the most significant moments in our country’s history. But it’s just one of the many important chapters to the story of Black baseball – a story that has inspired and empowered generations.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will honor this history and celebrate its impact with an initiative to tell the story of Black baseball, culminating in the opening of a new permanent exhibit at the Museum in Cooperstown in April 2024. This exhibit will replace Ideals and Injustices, the Hall of Fame’s current exhibit about the Black baseball experience. Originally titled Pride and Passion, it opened in 1997 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier.

In the 25 years since the Museum opened the Pride and Passion exhibit, extensive research has allowed the baseball community to better understand the statistics, as well as the significance, of those who created and participated in Black baseball. Utilizing innovative technology to enhance and improve the visitor experience, the new exhibit will tell a more complete story of civil rights initiatives in the United States and throughout the baseball world.

“The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s new initiative will provide greater depth to the stories of the Black baseball experience, including Black voices and interpretations, while incorporating new research that addresses society’s evolving understanding of racism and its impact on the National Pastime – all while celebrating Black culture through the lens of baseball,” said Josh Rawitch, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “Working with current and former Black ballplayers and experts in Black baseball history, we intend for this initiative 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.”

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 Board with representation from Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association, the Smithsonian Institution, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, The Players Alliance and more. The Hall of Fame will also hire a full-time curator to help provide an authentic perspective in the development of the project.

The Advisory Board will also include a number of living Hall of Famers, former players, historians, media members and others from the baseball family, including Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Larkin, Dave Winfield, Doug Glanville, Adam Jones and Dave Stewart, among others.

In addition to the resulting exhibit, this initiative will develop a plan to integrate more stories of Black baseball into existing exhibits throughout the Museum. New online content will be developed, as well as an outreach plan to create positive impacts in communities throughout the country.

“This collaborative effort to celebrate and share the history of Black baseball is unlike any exhibit exploration undertaken in the Museum’s 83-year history,” Rawitch said. “The parallel development of civil rights within baseball and in greater American society demonstrate how our game reflects our country’s history, and the new exhibit, scheduled to open in 2024, will provide Museum guests with the chance to explore and discuss these issues when they visit Cooperstown, online and through new educational initiatives.”