Negro League Baseball is a uniquely American story of gifted athletes and committed team owners determined to succeed against all odds in a league of their own. It's the story of heroes -- some who became famous, others who remained unsung -- who overcame discrimination, hatred, terrible conditions and low pay to do the one thing they loved the more than anything else in the world: play ball.
Award-winning illustrator and writer Kadir Nelson, in an eight year labor of love, pays homage to black baseball in We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball. In dozens of richly detailed oil paintings, Nelson captures the authenticity of the emotion and affection that these men felt for our national game.
The list of Hall of Famers who played in the Negro Leagues includes Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson, names that nearly every fan knows. But equally important to the rich history of black baseball are the following:
Rube Foster - As a manager, team owner and eventual organizer of the Negro National League in 1920, Foster lent dignity and stature to black baseball.
Leroy "Satchel" Paige - A phenomenal hurler and a master showman, Paige packed stadiums while pitching for more than 250 teams, including the 1948 MLB world champion Cleveland Indians.
Oscar Charleston - Fearless enough to have once reportedly snatched the hood off a Klansman, Charleston was a brilliant center fielder whose fierce competitiveness drew comparisons to Ty Cobb.
The Homestead Grays - The Grays featured stars Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard and were owned by the well respected Cumberland Posey (center).
Raleigh "Biz" Mackey - Perhaps the finest catcher in Negro Leagues history, Mackey taught Dodgers great Roy Campanella everything he knew about the position.