Dodgers pay homage to the Negro Leagues

LOS ANGELES– The Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) and the Inglewood Baseball Fund [iad homage to the Negro Leagues by hosting a virtual forum in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues.

The event, held in 2020, featured Dodger manager Dave Roberts and former Dodger and current broadcaster Jerry Hairston Jr., whose grandfather played in the Negro Leagues.

The virtual program was live-streamed on Facebook and the Webinar had over 500 participants from the Inglewood Baseball Fund, Dodgers Community partner organizations, LADF grantee organizations, Dodgers RBI, and Dodgers Dreamfields partners. 

Jerry Hairston Jr.’s grandfather, Sam, was a catcher for the Cincinnati-Indianapolis Clowns in the early to mid-1940s,

The program began with remarks from Dodgers Vice President, External Affairs & Community Relations, Naomi Rodriguez, and Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Nichol Whiteman.  

 “Celebrations like this are so important to shine a light on trailblazers in our sport that helped open doors for opportunities for people of color, not just in baseball but in society at large,” said Rodriguez. “The impact of the Negro Leagues continues to be felt to this day in terms of entertainment and diversity in our game, and we’re proud to help commemorate this milestone.” 

 “As we reflect on what brought us here today, we must acknowledge the past. And while we have made tremendous strides in access to baseball, this celebration of 100 years of the Negro Leagues reminds us that there is still work ahead,” said Whiteman. “Together, we must promote the game in underrepresented communities where youth, particularly Black youth, can see themselves in the faces of players on a global stage.” 

 Participants were then given an overview and history of the Negro Leagues by Larry Lester, baseball author, historian, statistical researcher, and lecturer and current chairman of the Society for American Baseball Research’s Negro League’s Committee.  

 Dodger team historian Mark Langill next led a panel discussion with Roberts and Hairston, who discussed how the Negro Leagues impacted their respective careers. Following the panel, Roberts and Hairston answered questions from youth baseball and softball players and other participants.  

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Robers
Mrs. Jackie Robinson, Rachel Robinson (third center), Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, team owner Magic Johnson and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson help celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on Friday, April 15, 2016. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

Roberts shared his thoughts on Negro League players saying, “these guys made a big sacrifice when you talk about what the Negro Leagues did to inspire Major League Baseball, raise the bar for Major League Baseball players, and give African American players an opportunity to pave the way for myself. We wouldn’t be where we are in our careers without them.” 

Hairston, Jr., whose grandfather Sam Hairston played in the Negro Leagues with the Birmingham Black Barons and Indianapolis Clowns before finishing his career with the Chicago White Sox of Major League Baseball, reflected, “my grandfather was a better player than I was, but he didn’t have the opportunity that I had. That’s why I played as hard as I did because my grandfather and others sacrificed so much for us. It’s just so great that these men are getting recognition during this panel and throughout this celebration.” 

 The Dodgers joined all of Major League Baseball in celebrating the Negro Leagues on Sunday, August 16, 2020, as baseball recognized the men and women who greatly contributed to the history and legacy of the sport. During this tribute, all on-field personnel wore a symbolic Negro Leagues’ 100th anniversary logo patch to go along with special in-stadium and broadcast activations. 

In honor of the celebration, LADF launched a special auction with the game-used commemorative jerseys from the game with net proceeds to support softball and baseball development scholarships to the Dodgers Training Academy for Black high school-age youth in Los Angeles. 

During the month of February in 2020, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced a joint donation of $1 million to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri to complement efforts to educate and raise awareness of the impact the Negro Leagues and its players had on the sport and society. 

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