President Barack Obama hosted a special meeting with former Negro League players and representatives at the White House on Aug. 5 to honor their contributions to the nation’s history, civil rights, and professional baseball.
“Well first of all, let me just say, what an honor it is to have you all in the White House, I think everybody knows that I’m a pretty big sports fan, and I think that anybody who knows the history of the Negro Leagues knows that it was important not only because some great baseball was played, that you saw folks like Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson display unbelievable athletic talent, and many of the gentlemen who are here today, but it also changed our culture,” Obama said during the meeting.
“You gave opportunities for the African American community to feel pride about their athleticism and it slowly opened the doors for opportunities in the future.”
One of the organizers of the meeting was Andrea McCoy-Carty, vice president of the Judy Johnson Memorial Foundation, which seeks to educate the general public on the interesting and forgotten history of Negro League Baseball, and to provide an illustration of the extraordinary athletic ability of the Negro League athletes who played in virtual anonymity during the 60-plus years they were denied the opportunity to compete in Major League Baseball.
McCoy-Carty helped with the planning and execution of the event and even paid for some of the players’ accommodations during the trip to the White House.
Among those that attended the meeting were Larry Lester, one of the founders of the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City; Minnie Forbes, former owner of the Detroit Stars; Carl Long, former outfielder for the Birmingham Black Barons; Cliff Layton, former pitcher for the Indianapolis Clowns and New York Black Yankees; James “Red” Moore, former first baseman of the Baltimore Elite Giants and Atlanta Black Crackers; Minnie Minoso, former third baseman of the New York Cubans; Audrey Simmons, Executive Director of the Hubert V. Simmons Negro League Baseball Museum of Maryland; Mammie Johnson, wife of the late Peanut Johnson, pitcher for the Indianapolis Clowns, and many others.
“We are very, very proud to have you here and I personally as the first African-American President obviously take great pride in being able to host you here,” Obama said. “And I want to say thank you for everything that you have done. For the spouses, we appreciate you and we want to thank everybody that was involved in organizing this. It means a great deal to us.”