We worked closely with World Series champion, Cy Young Award winner and one of the famed ‘Black Aces’, CC Sabathia to bring you this powerful collaboration. CC coordinated the program and acted as Creative Director. We partnered with the Major League Baseball Players Association, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and our partners/the families of Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson to make this collection come to life. We thoughtfully designed and curated the collection to preserve the rich history and highlight the pioneers who wrote it.
1920 - roughly 100 years ago, a group of 8 black baseball owners came together to forge a future for their community. From this meeting came the birth of the National Negro League - the first successful, organized professional Black Baseball League. Their passion for the game was boundless and they were not going to wait for change to come.
Playing on the National Negro League field was different. There was a freedom to play your own way. To express yourself free from the oppression of existing baseball structures. Players felt at ease to let their culture flow through their style of play, and this showed on the field. The swagger oozing from this style was elevated by their quality of play. This was no secondary league. In their eyes this was the league and they were the show - "I use my single windup, my double windup, my triple windup, my hesitation windup, my no windup. I also use my step-n-pitch-it, my submariner, my sidearmer and my bat dodger. Man's got to do what he's got to do." - Satchel Paige.
They were the oppressed. They were the disenfranchised. They were the proud people that carved out that change for themselves. Thanks to their efforts and vision of a future that belonged to all, we are here now celebrating the pioneering players behind the National Negro League in it’s Centenary - they played for us so we could play as equals.
They brought a community together in times of radical division, They created a hub of support and economic prosperity. This was bigger than a baseball league. This was bigger than sports. The National Negro League games became an umissable social gathering - a place to express yourself free from discrimination and hate. The pioneering few behind it’s inception built an environment for a culture to flourish. They played for us so we could play for all.
Proceeds from all sales will benefit the NLBM’s efforts to preserve and celebrate the rich history of African American baseball and its significance in the social advancement of America at large. When iconic players, like Jackie Robinson are featured, proceeds from their products will also go directly to them or their estates/families. The program and apparel will include the phrase “They Played for Us” to capture the lasting influence Negro League Players have had on today’s game, athletes and all through popular culture. This will be an invitation for current players to finish the sentence with “So I Can…”