(COOPERSTOWN, NY) – The greatest legends of Black baseball demonstrated their talents and desire for four decades at the annual Negro Leagues East-West All-Star Game. From Satchel Paige to Cool Papa Bell, these gifted Black Knights took center stage.
What Is The Hall of Fame East-West Classic?
The Negro Leagues East-West All-Star Game debuted in 1933 at Chicago’s Comiskey Park and was played annually through 1962, including several years that featured multiple games. Hall of Famer Bill Foster was the winning pitcher in the inaugural East-West All-Star Game and several future Hall of Famers starred in the game throughout the years, including Ray Brown, Andy Cooper, Leon Day, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Jackie Robinson and Willie Wells.
In 2024, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will honor that legacy by hosting the Hall of Fame East-West Classic: A Tribute to the Negro Leagues All-Star Game, presented by Boeing, during Memorial Day Weekend at Cooperstown’s historic Doubleday Field.
Scheduled for Saturday, May 25, the Hall of Fame East-West Classic will feature more than two dozen former big leaguers, with Ken Griffey Jr. and Ozzie Smith among the Hall of Famers who will serve as the East and West teams’ managers and coaches.
The game, which will take the place of the Hall of Fame Classic in 2024, will be part of a weekend celebration as the Museum opens its new exhibit The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball.
“Memorial Day Weekend will serve as a landmark event within a years-long initiative among the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and our partners to rethink how the stories of Black baseball are told in Cooperstown,” said Josh Rawitch, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “The Souls of the Game exhibit will tell the story of Black baseball through the voices of the men and women who broke barriers and made history on and off the field.”
MLBbro.com is naturally elated and fully supportive of this turn of events, as our entire platform is dedicated to preserving, highlighting and reporting the history and current triumphs of African-American baseball players.
“We are thrilled to host many of the game’s biggest stars of the last two decades for the Hall of Fame East-West Classic, a tribute to the heroes of Black baseball who showcased their talents for years in the annual Negro Leagues All-Star Game,” continued Rawitch. “The incredible enthusiasm from players participating in this legends game faced their own challenges while helping to build on the diversity that has flowed through our National Pastime for more than a century.”
Who Will Be Playing?
Players committed to participate in the May 25 Hall of Fame East-West Classic include team captains CC Sabathia and Chris Young; Josh Barfield, Tim Beckham, Ian Desmond, Prince Fielder, Curtis Granderson, Tony Gwynn Jr., Jerry Hairston, Scott Hairston, LaTroy Hawkins, Ryan Howard, Edwin Jackson, Jeremy Jeffress, Adam Jones, Russell Martin, Tony Sipp, Justin Upton and Dontrelle Willis.
CC Sabathia pitched 19 seasons for the NY Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers. His 251 career wins is tied with “Bullet” Bob Gibson for No. 1 all-time among MLBbro pitchers. With just 161 career losses, CC flosses an ERA of 3.74 with 3,093 strikeouts. The Black Ace won 1 Cy Young award, 1 League Championship MVP award and 1 World Series.
“The East-West All-Star Game was the annual showcase for the Negro Leagues, and we are privileged to be able to honor the legacy of those stars over Memorial Day Weekend in Cooperstown as part of the Hall of Fame’s celebration of Black baseball,” Sabathia tells MLBbro.com.
“As players, we are indebted to the pioneers who came before us, and recognizing the All-Stars of the Negro Leagues pays tribute not only to their playing ability but also to their courage and devotion to the game.”
The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball Exhibit
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has teamed up with Sports Travel and Tours to offer baseball fans a one-stop opportunity to purchase Classic Weekend travel packages. For more information or to plan a trip to Cooperstown, please call 1-888-310-HALL (4255). Membership participants receive a 5% discount on all their baseball travel packages.
Located on the Museum’s second floor in the Yawkey Gallery, The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball will cover stories of early Black baseball, the Negro Leagues era, the complexities of reintegration, Jackie Robinson, post-reintegration progress and retrogress, and calls for change in today’s game while celebrating the newest superstars of the era. Meaningful stories from Black baseball are also being added to other exhibits throughout the Museum.
The exhibit is part of the Hall of Fame’s Black Baseball Initiative that includes additional outreach programs, educational materials and virtual programming.
The Souls of the Game, a title that pays tribute to W.E.B. Du Bois’s seminal 1903 book “The Souls of Black Folk”, will explore the Black baseball experience of those men, women and children who were and are an integral part of our National Pastime.
Subtitled “Voices of Black Baseball”, the exhibit will highlight first-person accounts by the many individuals whose experiences shaped them, their community, baseball and America at large. Featuring historically significant artifacts, documents and photographs, and utilizing audio, video, and interactive elements, the exhibit will tell a more inclusive story of baseball, shine a light on and correct misconceptions about Black baseball.
For more information about the Museum’s Black Baseball Initiative, click here.