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Baseball Extends Celebration of Negro Leagues With HOF Tribute Game

  • New event dovetails with planned MLB game at historic Rickwood Field.
  • Baseball shrine continuing efforts to evolve, draw more visitors.
Georgie Silvarole/New York State Team via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The commemoration of Black baseball and the Negro Leagues will take another significant step next year with the Hall of Fame’s revival of a long-dormant all-star game.

The Cooperstown, New York, shrine will stage the Hall of Fame East-West Classic on May 25, a tribute to the the Negro Leagues East-West All-Star Game that ran annually from 1933 to ’62.

The event at Doubleday Field will feature more than two dozen former MLB stars, including CC Sabathia, Prince Fielder, Curtis Granderson, Ryan Howard, and David Price. Hall of Famers Ken Griffey Jr. and Ozzie Smith have committed to managerial or coaching roles. 

The game dovetails with MLB’s planned June 20 game between the Cardinals and Giants at Alabama’s historic Rickwood Field, a park that opened in 1910 and hosted Negro Leagues games for decades. The Hall of Fame will also supplement the all-star game with a new museum exhibit on Black baseball.

“The way in which the world views baseball, Black baseball, race relations has changed in 25 years,” said Hall of Fame president Josh Rawitch. “It’s also really important to the curatorial team and everyone else involved that it’s not just stories of struggle and challenges, it’s also a celebration.”

Cooperstown Evolution

Next year, the Negro Leagues tribute game will replace the usual Hall of Fame Classic that the institution holds each Memorial Day. The event extends an ongoing effort to evolve and draw additional visitors to the upstate New York locale — an initiative that over the years has also included various traveling exhibitions. 

Most recently, the Hall of Fame hosted the Savannah Bananas, a traveling independent baseball team that has become a fan sensation, at Doubleday Field. 

“Part of our mission across baseball is to make the sport as relevant to the next generation of fans as it’s been to the ones before,” Rawitch told Front Office Sports in September.

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