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Celebrating Black History Month at Beyond the Box Score

This month we’ll be celebrating the rich history of black ball players and leagues, from the late-nineteenth century through the formalization of the Negro League and into integration.

Pittsburgh Crawfords1928 Photo Reproduction by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

This month we’re doing something a little different at the site to celebrate Black History Month.

While we occasionally post content related to Negro League players, we will be posting an article every weekday this month, celebrating the rich history and contributions of the Negro Leagues, from the earliest disorganized professional teams through the formalized Negro League we discuss on a more frequent basis.

Nearly everyone in the US knows the story of Jackie Robinson, and while most fans have heard names like Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson, and Buck O’Neil, we wanted to dive deeper into the history of black baseball, and the interesting and often overlooked stories of black leagues and ballplayers.

This week we dive into the history of early Negro Leagues, and the formalization of black baseball leagues into the league we generally speak about and reference when we discuss the Negro Leagues today. We’ll dive into names of early pioneers and advocates for black leagues and black ballplayers, including Rube Foster and the legacy and impact of Buck O’Neil.

Week two we will celebrate the All Time Negro League teams, and dive into some of the most impactful and fun players of color — players who undoubtedly would be household names akin to Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Honor Wager, if only they were given the opportunity to integrate with white players.

Beyond the All Star teams, we’ll continue player profiles in week three. Going beyond the cursory look and name recognition, and doing some specific player bios.

The last week of February we’ll be reviewing the impact black players have had in various cities. From a storied history of black baseball in Pittsburgh and Kansas City to the induction of black players to Cooperstown, the impact of players-of-color runs deep across America.

We hope you enjoy our journey through some of baseball’s most important and sadly often overlooked history of black ballplayers. The prolific history of the Negro Leagues is something worth celebrating, and we hope you learn as much as our staff did as part of this effort.

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Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano