NEW YORK, NY.-
Through colorful freestanding panels featuring photographs of teams and players; and original documents and artifacts from the collections of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and other institutions across the U.S., Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience examines the challenges faced by African-American baseball players as they sought equal opportunities in their sport beginning in the post-Civil War era. Pride and Passion will be on display through March 6, 2009 at The New York Public Library
s Countee Cullen branch located at 104 West 136th in Harlem.
In the 1880s, more than 30 African Americans were on teams in baseballs major and minor leagues. But opportunities diminished as Reconstruction ended and segregation became entrenched as part of American culture. During the 1887 season, league owners agreed to make no new contracts with African-American players. From that time on, until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, baseball was a segregated sport.
In response, more than 200 independent all-black teams organized and barnstormed around the country, developing a reputation for a fast-running, power-hitting game. By the 1920s, black baseball had its own successful professional leagues. Negro league baseball grew into a multi-million dollar enterprise and a focus of great pride in the African-American community. Legendary figures such as Rube Foster, Buck Leonard, Oscar Charleston, James Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige thrilled audiences and helped pave the way for integration of the major leagues in the mid-20th century.
In 1971, Satchel Paige became the first player inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame based solely on his performance in the Negro leagues. In the years that followed, more than 35 players and managers from such powerhouse Negro league teams as the Chicago American Giants, Kansas City Monarchs, St. Louis Stars, Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays have been voted into the Hall of Fame.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the American Library Association Public Programs Office organized the traveling exhibition, which was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH): great ideas brought to life. The traveling exhibition is based upon an exhibition of the same name on permanent display at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.