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Congressman Emanuel Cleaver

Representing the 5th District of MISSOURI

Cleaver, Stivers, Blunt, Kaine Introduce Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial Commemorative Coin Act

Jul 30, 2019
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, United States Representatives Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) and Steve Stivers (R-OH), along with United States Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), introduced the Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial Commemorative Coin Act. The legislation directs the U.S. Treasury to mint a coin to commemorate the Centennial of Negro Leagues Baseball.

“It’s difficult to overstate the significance that sports played in the civil rights movement. As America’s pastime, baseball and the Negro Leagues were at the very forefront of the fight for equality,” said Cleaver. “At a time when many were still under the erroneous assumption that African Americans were inferior to white Americans, the Negro Leagues were a proving ground that under the same rules, African Americans were every bit as good, if not better, than their counterparts in the Major Leagues. As the representative of Kansas City, the birthplace of the Negro Leagues and home of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, I couldn’t be more proud to sponsor this legislation. I would urge all of my colleagues to support this bill and honor the legacy of every player that participated in such a pivotal organization in American history.”

““Baseball is the great American pastime, it unites all Americans. Even as some of history’s greatest players were barred from the major league teams, their talent and love of the game were legendary, and that deserves to be celebrated,” Stivers said. “The minting of a coin to honor these courageous athletes and their contribution to baseball, and our nation’s history is undeniably worthwhile, and I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation.”

“From Jackie Robinson to Satchel Paige to Buck O'Neil, several of baseball’s most iconic players began their professional careers in the Negro Leagues,” said Blunt. “The talent, excitement, and sportsmanship they brought to the game helped break down the barriers of segregation. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum highlights and preserves the legacy of African-American baseball and its impact on the history of sports and our nation. I encourage everyone to visit the museum, and I urge my colleagues to support this effort to celebrate the Centennial of Negro Leagues Baseball.”

“For over forty years, thousands of Americans played baseball in the Negro Leagues. These leagues were born at a time when African American and Hispanic players were barred from major league teams, and some of our country’s greatest players were part of them. This coin will honor these players and teams and continue to ensure their legacy is carried on,” Kaine said.

“The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum would like to thank Senators Blunt and Kaine, along with Representatives Cleaver and Stivers, for leading this historic effort to commemorate the centennial of the Negro Leagues,” said Bob Kendrick, President of the National Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. “The birth of the Negro Leagues is one of the most significant occurrences in US History and helped blaze a path to Civil Rights. A US Mint commemorative coin would be a fitting way to celebrate America’s unsung baseball heroes while supporting the important work of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to ensure that this powerful story of triumph over adversity plays on to inspire future generations.”

The Negro National League was created in 1920 during a meeting of team owners at a YMCA in Kansas City, Missouri. Prior to 1920, teams “barnstormed” around the country playing whomever they could. The creation of the league brought some structure to the playing schedule, and other regional leagues were soon formed. With Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947, a gradual influx of talent to Major League Baseball (MLB) depleted the capabilities of the Negro Leagues, and the majority of teams collapsed by the 1960’s. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum was founded in 1990 and resides in Kansas City, Missouri. The privately funded museum is dedicated to preserving the history and honoring the legacy of Negro Leagues Baseball.

Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri's Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee; Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy; member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress; member of the Committee on Homeland Security; and a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. For more information, please contact Matthew Helfant at 202-225-4535 or Matthew.Helfant@mail.house.gov A high-resolution photo of Congresssman Cleaver is available here.