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Negro Leaguers Earn More Spots in Hall of Fame

Baseball takes another step in its recognition of the Negro Leagues' contributions to the sport when 39 candidates are voted on at the end of this month in a special election for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The 39 names on the ballot are the result of an investigation that began in July 2000. Major League Baseball provided a grant of $250,000 that helped more than 50 historians and scholars research the history of black baseball. They searched more than 150 newspapers and miles of microfilm, checking box scores against news accounts.

Because reporters didn't travel with Negro Leagues teams, and there were few news wires at the time, players' statistics varied widely or were forgotten altogether.

The legacy of the Negro League is best showcased at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo.

The volunteer chairman -- and the leagues' affable ambassador -- is former Kansas City Monarchs first baseman John "Buck" O'Neil. He and former New York Cubans power-hitter Minnie Minoso are the only living members on the list of 39.

When he's not on the road promoting the museum, the 94-year-old O'Neil is at the museum giving tours. At a simulated baseball diamond, bronze statues highlight the careers of Negro Leaguers currently in the Hall of Fame.

Only 18 black players are currently honored at Cooperstown. A 12-member voting committee will announce the results of the special election of Negro Leaguers on Feb. 27.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Laura Ziegler
Laura Ziegler began her career at KCUR as a reporter more than 20 years ago. She became the news director in the mid 1980's and in 1988, went to National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. as a producer for Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon.