KANSAS CITY, MO — The baseball league that helped spark integration of American professional sports is being honored today on a 44-cent U.S. postage stamp being issued at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
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 today 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.
Joining Marshall and Brown to unveil the stamps were Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Gregory Baker, Stamp Artist Kadir Nelson, who designed the stamps, and former Negro leagues player Mamie “Peanut” Johnson.
“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.”
Working in conjunction with non-government organizations within the United Nations, and viewed as a 21st century peace prize, these awards recognize companies that are making a difference in the world through their support of local, national and international nonprofit organizations.
More on Cleophus Brown from USPS
“It’s a great honor,” said Brown. “I think the stamps are wonderful.”
Brown, an employee since 1980, works at the Birmingham, AL, Main Post Office. He played professional baseball with the Louisville Clippers and Birmingham Black Barons in 1953-1955. His fastball was once clocked at 100 mph and he was a noted hitter.
“I always loved playing baseball,” said Brown. “I kept playing the game recreationally until I was 65, but stopped pitching at 58. I could still hit, so I switched to just playing first base.”
Brown, 76, says he still meets with former Negro League players once a month to reminisce about the old days. He says the players are happy about the new stamps.
“I am thrilled about the event,” said Brown. “I enjoy baseball and I’m proud to be part of its history.”
source: USPS News Link