HACP/ DCHA Youth Learn the History and Importance of Negro League Baseball as the 100th Anniversary Nears

June 28, 2019

Museum, Monument, and Historic Destination Visits, Negro League Baseball Learning Sessions, and a Baseball Game Filled the Weekend.

In an exchange to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Negro League Baseball next year, youth from the District of Columbia Housing Authority and the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh are visiting each other’s cities—both known for the Homestead Grays—for a full educational experience.

“The first half of this exchange this weekend with the young people from Pittsburgh coming to visit us and learning not only what D.C. has offer, but what the men and women of Negro League Baseball offered this city was truly a great experience for our youth,” said DCHA Executive Director Tyrone Garrett. “From the home plate at Howard University Hospital, where the former Griffith Stadium used to stand, to the game at Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, our youth were able to experience this city’s rich history. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say we cannot wait for our trip to Pittsburgh next year to celebrate the Negro League’s 100th anniversary.”

“The Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh is proud to provide our young residents an opportunity to visit the nation’s capital and commemorate the milestone anniversary of the Negro League,” said Executive Director Caster D. Binion. “We’re pleased to give our youth an opportunity to learn about African American history and culture and to compete against their peers from the D.C. Housing Authority.”

The Homestead Grays and the Washington Grays shared a roster, traveling by bus back and forth between the cities. The two teams also shared homerun king Josh Gibson, who many called “the Black Babe Ruth.” This exchange was organized by the Pittsburgh-based Josh Gibson Foundation, which partners with the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh for baseball and educational programming.

“We want to do a lot of things outside of the game to make their experience worthwhile,” said Sean Gibson, executive director of the foundation named for his grandfather. “I want our young people to understand the importance, as well as the history of the Negro League and the importance of what these guys went through. When my grandfather was their age, he couldn’t play Major League Baseball because of the color of his skin, something these kids don’t have to face today.”

On Friday, June 28, the young players from Pittsburgh, ages 9 to 12, arrived at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy and met their DCHA counterparts. Together they explored Howard University, highlighting the former Griffith stadium location, used by the Washington Senators, Grays, and Redskins. They toured monuments, visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and enjoyed dinner at Ben’s Chili Bowl, which features Josh Gibson and D.C.’s Mamie ‘Peanut’ Johnson, a female player in the league, in its mural.

The teams met up on Saturday for warm-up sessions with Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy staff and special guests and went head to head in a baseball game wearing uniforms reminiscent of the Homestead Grays, including the W for the District’s players. Following the game, they attended workshops on the history of Negro League Baseball and the men who played in it.

This time next year during the 100th anniversary celebration, the same DCHA players will visit Pittsburgh for a larger tournament among regional housing authority’s teams, as well as visiting historic Negro League sites and museums in the area.

For more information:

HACP – Michelle Sandidge, michelle.sandidge@hacp.org 

DCHA – Christine Goodman, cgoodman@dchousing.org