Four former presidents start celebrating the centennial of the black leagues

Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter are lending their voices to a major milestone in baseball: the 100th anniversary of the formation of the black leagues.

The four former presidents kicked off the “Tip Your Cap” campaign on Monday, which asks baseball fans to take a photo or short video of them wearing their caps honoring the talented players and civil rights heroes of the Black Leagues.

The black leagues were formed in response to the exclusion of black players in the Major League Baseball. Several teams of black amateurs and professionals had been formed before 1920, but that is the year that the National Black League was formed and started playing. Several of the greatest stars in baseball passed through the Black Leagues before reaching the Major League Baseball, or before the MLB allowed them to enter. Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Roy Campanella and Satchel Page played in the Negro Leagues

The “Tip Your Cap” campaign is led by Bob Kendrick, president of the Museum of Black League Baseball in Kansas City, Missouri. Numerous in-person celebrations had been planned to commemorate the Black League anniversary, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the museum to find a virtual way for people to celebrate such an important baseball anniversary.

The campaign is already gaining strength. Michael Jordan, Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker, retired from four-star general and first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, women’s sports pioneer Billie Jean King, and presenter Bob Costas, all they bowed in homage to the Black Leagues.