The baseball league that helped spark integration of American professional sports is being honored on a 44-cent U.S. postage stamp.
The Negro Leagues Baseball stamps pay tribute to the all-black professional baseball leagues that operated from 1920 to about 1960. A second commemorative stamp features the league’s founder, Andrew “Rube” Foster, who is considered the “father” of Negro Leagues Baseball. In 1981, Foster was honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame as the “foremost manager and executive” of Negro Leagues baseball.
“The United States Postal Service is honored to be dedicating two stamps in commemoration of Negro Leagues Baseball,” said Thurgood Marshall Jr., the Postal Service’s Board of Governors vice chairman. “In 1920, the first of several black leagues of the modern era was formed right here in Kansas City. It was called the Negro National League,” Marshall noted. “With the issuance of these stamps, the rich legacy of the Negro Leagues will travel far and wide, throughout this nation.”
Vice Chairman Marshall’s remarks highlighted the legendary baseball giants who played in the Negro Leagues, including Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, James “Cool Papa” Bell and Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947 and opened doors for former Negro League players and Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Larry Doby and many others.
Marshall also gave a special salute to Birmingham, AL, postal employee Cleophus Brown, who played in the Negro Leagues for the Birmingham Black Barons and the Louisville Clippers. Brown, 76, has been a motor vehicle driver for the Postal Service for the past 30 years.
“As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, we are thrilled that the U.S. Postal Service has chosen to recognize and honor the men and women of the Negro Leagues who set aside the challenges of their time and empowered themselves to become the most positive examples of leadership, character, creativity and determination ever imagined in our modern day,” said Greg Baker, president, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. “In turn, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has nominated the U.S. Postal Service for a United Nations NGO Positive Peace Award to honor them for celebrating the league’s legacy.”
The stamps have gone on sale nationwide in Post Offices or may be purchased at the online Postal Store at www.usps.com/shop and by calling 800-STAMP-24.
The USPS is making other products available to collectors in conjunction with the stamps including first day covers, commemorative folios and more.