Photographs by Katie Johnstone
With the All-Star Game just around the corner, it couldn’t hurt to brush up on your baseball history. The International League officially banned so-called “colored” players from its minor league teams in 1890, consequently excluding them from ascending into the major leagues until the mid-1940s. Women found their short-lived opportunity to play for only 12 seasons during wartime while most able-bodied men were fighting abroad.
However, a few significant players shattered barriers and eventually transformed America’s pastime–and its past. The Diversity in Baseball exhibit at the Underground Railroad Freedom Center showcases these players and their contributions to rewriting America’s social narrative.
Historical re-enactors will portray some of these legends, including Jackie Robinson, the first African American player on a major league team; Toni Stone, the first female player on a Negro major league team; Hank Greenberg, the first Jewish sports star; and Roberto Clemente, the first Latin American player to start in a winning World Series.
Visitors can engage with these characters on a small, interactive baseball diamond and learn about how they created the diverse and modern game we watch today. Further information will be displayed on text panels, accompanied by illustrations by Freedom Center Brand Champion and local artist Jesse Kramer.
Through Sept 13, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 50 East Freedom Way, downtown, freedomcenter.org