Negro Leagues Commemorative Legislation Introduced in Congress

A bi-partisan bill was introduced in Congress this week that would authorize the creation of a commemorative coin to honor the Negro Leagues of baseball. The bill would call for the creation of the commemorative in 2020 in celebration of the centennial of the leagues being formed in 1920.

The bill was introduced on Tuesday, July 30, 2019 and is sponsored by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Tim Kaine (D-VA). It is sponsored in the House of Representatives by Representatives Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO5) and Steve Stivers (R-OH15). The legislation is officially know as the Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial Commemorative Coin Act.

“It’s difficult to overstate the significance that sports played in the civil rights movement. As America’s pastime, baseball and the Negro Leagues were at the very forefront of the fight for equality,” Cleaver said in a statement.

Representative Emanuel Cleaver II, Democrat-Missouri Fifth District

The Negro Leagues were formed in 1920 when segregation in the United States prevented black baseball players from playing in the Major Leagues. Many of the biggest names in baseball came from the League, including Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige, and Buck O’Neil. Prior to the league being formed, teams would play as often and wherever they could find another team to play. The league, which formed in Kansas City, Missouri in 1920, helped organize the teams and formulate travel schedules and game schedules. The leagues also pushed Major League Baseball into action with the immense amount of talent that was available but, to that point, had been locked out of the big leagues. It would take another 27 years until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball on April 15, 1947.

Like other commemorative coin legislation, this one will also have to be approved by both the House and Senate and then signed into law by the President. Given that the legislation calls for the coin to be minted in 2020, it is likely to get fast-tracked to get through the legislative process so the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Mint can begin designs and engravings of the commemorative. Assuming the legislation passes without much delay, it will likely be mid-to-late 2020 before we see the coin.

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