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As the Negro League Baseball Museum and others around the sport celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues all 2020, NLBM president Bob Kendrick hopes Maryland's celebration inspires other states to follow suit.
In honor of Negro League Day in Maryland, signed into law in 2009 as the second Saturday of May, the Baltimore Orioles posted a conversation on Twitter between Kendrick and MASN host Rob Long. Kendrick said it'd be difficult to find a community that hasn't been touched by the Negro Leagues.
"I think for all the areas that embrace and celebrate the heritage of our sport, it makes us proud," Kendrick said. "And I hope that as we move deeper into this centennial celebration, we'll see other communities doing exactly what the state of Maryland has done and pay tribute to the Negro Leagues.
"You'd be hard-pressed to find a community, even if they're not in a Major League city, you'd be hard to find a community that wasn't touched at some point in time by the Negro Leagues. Because they barnstormed all over the country."
Baltimore's first Negro League teams were the Baltimore Black Sox and Baltimore Elite Giants. The Black Sox won the American Negro League title in 1929. The Elite Giants won Negro National League titles in 1939 and 1949.
The Elites produced Hall of Famers like player-manager Biz Mackey, pitcher Leon Day and catcher Roy Campanella, a three-time MVP in the Major Leagues for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Elite Giants pitcher Joe Black and second baseman Junior Gilliam went on to win NL Rookie of the Year awards for the Dodgers. The Hubert V. Simmons Museum of Negro League Baseball in Owings Mills, Md. was named after longtime Baltimorean and former Elite Giants pitcher Bert Simmons.
"I hope that the centennial will challenge people to maybe start to dig a little bit more about the history," Kendrick said. "And maybe it helps us uncover an artifact or two that can make its way to Kansas City (Negro League Baseball Museum) so that we can tell stories."
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