WASHINGTON Today, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Tim Kaine (Va.) announced that the Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial Commemorative Coin Act has unanimously passed the Senate. Their bipartisan legislation directs the U.S. Treasury to mint a coin to commemorate the Centennial of Negro Leagues Baseball. U.S. Representatives Emanuel Cleaver, II (Mo.) and Steve Stivers (Ohio) have introduced companion legislation in the House.
Several of the games greatest and most iconic players began their professional careers in the Negro Leagues, from Jackie Robinson to Satchel Paige to Buck O’Neil, said Blunt. The talent, excitement, and sportsmanship they brought to the game helped break down the barriers of segregation. The National Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is dedicated to highlighting and preserving the legacy of African-American baseball and its significant impact on the history of sports and America. Im pleased this bill passed with the Senates full support, and I will continue working to get it to the presidents desk.
At a time when African American and Hispanic players were barred from playing on Major League teams, the Negro Leagues offered people the chance to see some of the countrys greatest ballplayers, said Kaine. They featured the early years of legends who later played in Major League Baseball like Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron – as well as many who never got that opportunity but whose greatness was belatedly recognized by induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, including Virginia-born stars Ray Dandridge, Leon Day, Pete Hill, and Jud Wilson. Im proud my colleagues and I worked together to ensure these players and teams are honored for their historic contributions.
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is thrilled to have Senate support of this game-changing legislation and we tip our cap to Senators Blunt and Kaine for their tireless and passionate leadership that has moved this historic commemoration a step closer to realization, said Bob Kendrick, President of the National Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
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.
The coin comes at no cost to taxpayers and the U.S. Treasury will be reimbursed for the costs of issuing the coins. After the U.S. Treasury has recouped all of its costs for designing and minting the coins, funds will be distributed to the National Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which was founded in 1990 in Kansas City.
In addition to Blunt and Kaine, the bill is cosponsored by 76 senators.