HAMMOND | A new exhibit at the Hammond Public Library highlights memorabilia and history from the Negro baseball leagues.
The exhibit, which runs through Feb. 27, features several pieces of memorabilia, including a Jackie Robinson jersey when he played for the Kansas City Monarchs, the St. Louis Stars jersey of James “Cool Papa” Bell and an autographed picture of Hank Aaron.
Racism led African-Americans to form their own baseball teams by the early 1900s, with an organized league beginning in the 1920s, according to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
“Everybody should understand the history and where we've all come from and where we need to get to,” said Philip Clark, the exhibit's organizer. “We should have never had all this segregation. It should have been all equal. Some of these guys had to fight their way into the league.”
Clark, of Hammond, said the Negro leagues contributed to the major leagues upon integration, such as the tradition of players' names being on the backs of their jerseys.
Clark said the exhibit highlights the fact the Negro leagues weren't segregated, with white players and women playing on teams.
“It's great to feature information on a part of baseball that's often overlooked,” said Linda Swisher, Hammond Public Library spokeswoman. “A lot of these people went on to do great things in the majors. Many more of them never made it to the majors and their contributions definitely should be recognized.”
The exhibit is in the library's main lobby at 564 State St.