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Former players celebrate Negro Leagues' 101st anniversary with streetcar unveiling

Posted at 5:48 PM, May 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 18:51:41-04

MILWAUKEE — Celebrating the Negro Leagues' 101st anniversary, the Milwaukee Brewers and community partners placed history in motion.

"Here we today, unveiling this beautiful streetcar, dedicated to a team that had a brief stint in the Negro Leagues, but have been so tremendously embraced by the city of Milwaukee," says Bob Kendrick, president of Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

The newly wrapped streetcar was a site taken in by former Negro League players.

"I'm glad that I lived long enough to see some things that I hoped for, to come," says Warren Kirkendoll, a former player.

It was equally appreciated by current professionals.

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"I think it's very important. I learned a lot of history myself, just today. I think it would be smart to be able to spread the word and keep it going, so I'm just honored to be here and a part of the city," says Tyrone Taylor, current Brewers outfielder.

In addition to unveiling the streetcar, Mayor Tom Barrett also declared May 25 'Negro League Legacy Day' in Milwaukee. The proclamation helps to make sure that future generations never forget the sacrifice of the men who dreamed to play baseball.

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"We had to live in those conditions because we loved to play the game. Back when I was playing, we had to travel in cars, we didn't have a way to get there. We had to sleep in the cars, because we didn't have no hotel to go to," says James Beckham, former player and Milwaukee little league organizer.

"I just want my young people to know, it was more than Jackie Robinson. Jackie was a great ballplayer and he did something that none of the other players could have done at that time, but the history goes on," says Dennis Biddle, former player and co-founder of Yesterday's Negro League Player's Association.

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The next step, a national day of remembrance. It's something families across the country are fighting for.

"The day we are looking at is May 2, which was the first game played in the Negro Leagues. Why not recognize them for the contributions of just being citizens, being part of African American history, and that's what this whole day can be about," says Sean Gibson, great-grandson of Negro Leagues legend Josh Gibson.

To sign the petition to make May 2 a national day of remembrance, click here.

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