I was fortunate to know and work with Buck O’Neill. He was a Legend. He was a first baseman and manager in the Negro American League, mostly with the Kansas City Monarchs. After his playing days, he worked as a scout, and became the first African American coach in Major League Baseball.[1] In his later years he became a popular and renowned speaker and interview subject, helping to renew widespread interest in the Negro leagues, and played a major role in establishing the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. He joined me in welcoming many guests to events in and around Kansas City when I was the President of the Federal Executive Board. It was always special to spend time with him.

Fast forward as former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter are lending their voices to an important baseball milestone: the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Negro Leagues.

The four ex-presidents kicked off the “Tip Your Cap” campaign this Monday, which asks baseball fans to take a photo or short video of themselves tipping their caps in honor of the talented players and civil rights heroes of the Negro Leagues.

The Negro Leagues were formed in response to the exclusion of Black players in Major League Baseball. Multiple Black amateur and professional teams had been formed before 1920, but that’s the year the Negro National League formed and began play. A number of baseball’s greatest stars came through the Negro Leagues before making it to Major League Baseball — or before MLB would allow them in. Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Roy Campanella, Satchel Page, and as noted, Buck O’Neill all played in the Negro Leagues.

The “Tip Your Cap” campaign is being directed by the creative Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Numerous in-person celebrations had been planned to commemorate the anniversary of the Negro Leagues, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the museum to find a virtual way for people to celebrate such an important baseball anniversary. We were not able to visit this incredible museum this year during our second session but because of this special effort we can share a bit of the history with you now.

The campaign is already picking up steam. NASA Astronauts, Michael Jordan, Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker, retired four-star general and first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, women’s sports pioneer Billie Jean King, and broadcaster Bob Costas have all tipped their caps in tribute of the Negro Leagues.

I am proud to join the #TipYourCap2020 campaign in honor of the centennial of the Negro Leagues and the talented men and women who played in them from 1920 through 1960. The Negro Leagues made baseball better and America better. I invite you to visit the museum as you learn more. Also, join me in anticipation as we welcome 2020 baseball later this month – Play Ball!

(Portions of this article credit to Yahoo Sports)