They’ve got a donor with a huge collection. Now, Birmingham, Alabama wants a place to put it.
The mayor of Birmingham, Alabama is spearheading an effort to create a new Negro Hall of Fame Baseball League Museum.
Mayor Larry Langford has presented a preliminary architectural rendering of the estimated $7.5 million dollar facility, which includes the renovation of the existing Rickwood Field—the oldest baseball field in the country—to members of the City Council.
The mayor has also identified a donor, who has the largest collection of African American baseball memorabilia valued at more than $4 million. The memorabilia will be donated to the city for use at the museum.
“It’s amazing that people who don’t even live in the city of Birmingham sometimes believe more in us than we do ourselves. Players in the Negro league paved the way for the Henry (Hank) Aarons, Willie Mays and Jackie Robinsons of the world. It would be a tragedy to not preserve that part of Birmingham’s unique and rich history in sports,“ Langford said.
The Alabama museum apparently has no ties to the Negro Leagues Museum that already exists in Kansas City, MO.
Birmingham City Council members agreed to support the concept and authorize the mayor to find the funding to proceed. Mayor Langford said he would identify the funding from the city’s existing capital budget and advance details of the funding to the Council in the next two weeks.
A news release from the city indicated Birmingham’s museum "will be run by museum professionals" and will feature the history of the league, highlights of past players who were denied access to professional sports and state-of-the-art conference amenities.
“This museum has been talked about and talked about and talked about,“
Langford said. “Now, reality is here and it’s time we come together to preserve the history of the old Negro league players while they still live.“
Related: Negro Leagues on eBay