Former presidents tipped their caps for the 100th anniversary of baseball’s Negro Leagues

To mark the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues, four former presidents tipped their caps to their hometown baseball teams and favorite players on social media on Monday.

Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama participated in the “Tipping Your Cap” campaign on social media, which was started by Bob Kendrick, the president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, in Kansas City. The museum had plans to mark the centennial in style this year, MLB reports, with games where current MLB players would have worn jerseys from teams in the Negro Leagues, or 1947 uniforms to mark the year Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier, and other events. The coronavirus pandemic has shortened the season and shut down many those celebrations, though.

But Kendrick came up with a different way to mark the occasion, and now, four presidents and beloved athletes, like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Billie Jean King, are posting tributes to the leagues using the hashtag #TipYourCap2020. The campaign launched June 29 and runs through July 23, and everyone is invited to post their own tribute using the hashtag, or by sending an email with your photo or video to Tipping Your Cap at

The first of the Negro Leagues, the Negro National League, was created in 1920 by Andrew “Rube” Foster after Black men were banned from playing on white teams. Though many other Negro Leagues formed after Foster’s Negro National League, such as the American Negro League and the Eastern Negro League, the Negro National League was the first.

Black men were not originally banned from playing on major league teams. When baseball first became a national pastime and profession in the late 1800s, Moses Fleetwood Walker became the first Black man to play professional baseball in America, for the Toledo Blue Stockings in 1884. However, many white players and fans took issue with a Black man on the field, and Walker was often cut from the lineup and refused rooms at hotels where his fellow team members stayed. Eventually, the International League drew a color line, preventing Black men from playing on major league teams until Jackie Robinson broke the line on April 15, 1947.

Former President Obama tipped his White Sox cap to players Satchel Paige and Toni Stone on Twitter, writing, “Their brave example, first set 100 years ago, changed America’s pastime for the better — opening it up for new generations of players and fans alike.”

Former President George W. Bush tipped his Texas Rangers hat, noting that his favorite player as a kid was Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who started his baseball career with the Negro American League’s Birmingham Barons at age 16.

President Jimmy Carter said he was tipping his cap “to the pioneers who showed the world that black players belong in America’s game.”

President Clinton tweeted his support, saying in the video, “I loved Byron Johnson, from Arkansas, who played for the Monarchs, with Buck O’Neil and Satchel (Paige).”

Athletes, including Fergie Jenkins, a Hall of Famer who was a beloved Chicago Cubs pitcher for most of his career, also chimed in. “I am honored to have paved the way!” Jenkins wrote.

Will you be tipping your cap in tribute?