INDIANAPOLIS---The NCAA Hall of Champions has opened its doors to the first-ever collaborative, professional art exhibition inspired by Negro Leagues Baseball history called “Shades of Greatness,” which will be on display at the Hall through January 17, 2005.
“Shades of Greatness” features 35 original works of art that interpret the proud and accurate portrayal of the Negro Leagues baseball experience both on and off the playing field. The artwork is thought-provoking and serves as a tribute to this once forgotten chapter of American sports history. Those featured in the artwork include: Satchel Paige, a Baseball Hall of Fame pitching great; Josh Gibson, a Baseball Hall of Fame power hitter; Andrew “Rube” Foster, founder of the Negro National Baseball League and the backbone of the Negro Leagues in the 1920s; and Toni Stone, the first female to play in the Negro Leagues.
According to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum history, African-Americans began to play baseball in the late 1800s. In the early 1900s, segregation laws forced African-Americans to form their own units, where they played around the country against anyone who would challenge them. In 1920, Foster and some of his colleagues formed the Negro National League, which would become the Negro Leagues in baseball. The League formed teams in the Eastern and Southern states, playing in major urban centers and rural country sides in the U.S., Canada and Latin America.
In 1945, Major League Baseball’s Brooklyn Dodgers recruited Jackie Robinson from the Kansas City Monarchs to become the first African-American in the modern era to play on a Major League Baseball roster. Shortly thereafter, the Negro Leagues began to decline, with the last teams folding in the early 1960s. Nevertheless, the history of the Negro Leagues is remembered at national museums nationwide and in traveling exhibits, such as “Shades of Greatness.”
"This is a wonderful exhibit that pays tribute to one of the most interesting and historical times in sports history,” said George Smith, managing director of the NCAA Hall of Champions. “Baseball fans, sports fans, history buffs and anyone who enjoys culture should visit this exhibit and witness the compelling stories portrayed in this artwork.”
The NCAA Hall of Champions is a 25,000 square foot facility that celebrates the journey of the NCAA student-athlete. The Hall of Champions is located in White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis. Ticket prices are as follows: Adults/Seniors - $3; Students - $2; Children 5 years of age and under are admitted free of charge. For more information, contact the NCAA Hall of Champions at 800/735-NCAA.