OWINGS MILLS, Md. (WJZ) — It is Opening Day for the new Negro League Baseball Museum in Baltimore County. Organizers spent decades and thousands of dollars collecting artifacts.
Now, as Gigi Barnett explains, the exhibit has a permanent place to call home.
These are the memories that last–a battered baseball glove, jerseys pressed and preserved, a team picture of the Black Sox. They’re the treasures of the new Hubert Simmons Museum of Negro Leagues Baseball.
After years of moving around, the exhibit has a forever home in Baltimore County’s new Owings Mills Library.
“Back then, these ball players paved the way for the guys making mega bucks today,” said Rayner Banks, exhibit curator.
The museum is the brainchild of Rayner Banks and former player Hubert Simmons. For years, the friends sought and bought the artifacts.
Then, last year, the county agreed to permanently house it in its brand new $30 million library and office complex in Owings Mills.
“When I walk these halls, I’m not touching the floor, I am floating,” Banks said. “I know Mr. Simmons is holding me up and he’s up in heaven smiling.”
The museum also highlights the three women of the Negro Leagues. Mamie “Peanut” Johnson was one. Back in the 1950s, the white-only All-American Girls’ Pro League wouldn’t let her try out.
“I am so glad and so thankful that they rejected me,” Johnson said. “Because the opportunity came for me to play with the fellows and do something that no other woman has ever done.”
“Notoriety and acknowledgment. They never received their just due. God’s got me on a mission,” said Banks.
Now that the museum has a permanent home, the next step is to get more people involved in the sport, particularly children. The museum’s organizers say they’d like to form some summer baseball camps for kids soon.
The county also donated $125,000 to purchase more memorabilia. The museum takes up the first three floors of the library.
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