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Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum Celebrates Black Baseball History with Somerset Patriots Tribute Game

originally published: 07/20/2023

Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum Celebrates Black Baseball History with Somerset Patriots Tribute Game

(BRIDGEWATER, NJ) -- The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM) is proud to partner with the Somerset Patriots for their inaugural Negro League tribute game on Sunday, August 27. The Somerset Patriots will honor the New York Black Yankees at the TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, New Jersey. The Patriots take on the Hartford Yard Goats (Colorado Rockies) at 1:05pm.

SSAAM, central New Jersey’s only museum telling the story of African Americans in this region from the time of the transatlantic slave trade to the present day, supports this event honoring the history and legacy of the New York Black Yankees: a Negro League baseball team of the 1930s and ‘40s. At a time when Major League Baseball excluded Black athletes, Negro League teams gave African Americans a path to play professional baseball. On August 27, the Somerset Patriots will play in special jerseys with the SSAAM logo as well as a newly-designed logo honoring the Black Yankees. These game-worn jerseys will be auctioned off live after the event to benefit SSAAM’s mission and educational programming.

SSAAM is delighted to participate in an event that celebrates Black athletes’ significant contributions to America’s national pastime. “I’ve loved baseball since rooting for the 1986 championship-winning Mets, but my history with the sport is a bit deeper,” said SSAAM Executive Director Donnetta Johnson, who grew up near Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and attended Jackie Robinson Junior High School. “Jackie Robinson was a groundbreaking sports and civil rights hero to me and I’ve always been proud that I was born the year Jackie Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.”

Jackie Robinson got his professional start in baseball in the Negro Leagues, as did Black ball players from the Sourland region. SSAAM co-founder Elaine Buck’s cousin, Roy “Campy” Campanella, was a Hall of Fame Brooklyn Dodger who first played in the Negro Leagues and Mexican Leagues. Buck remembers Campanella visiting her childhood home in a big car with candy for all the children. SSAAM co-founder Beverly Mills’s father William Wallace Smith (known as “Shud”) was a talented player for the Pennington All-Stars in the 1940s. Board member Patricia Payne, who grew up at the True Farmstead—a historically African American Farmstead now part of the SSAAM campus in Skillman—during the 1940s and ‘50s, fondly remembers watching her baseball heroes play in person. Payne attended as many local, New York, and Philadelphia Negro League, American League, and National League games as her baseball-loving uncles would take her to.

SSAAM applauds the  Somerset Patriots and this special event to honor and celebrate the Black Yankees, Negro league baseball and the tremendous impact that Black athletes have had in the game of baseball. 

Tickets for the tribute game, supporting SSAAM and Minor League Baseball’s “The Nine” initiative, are available for purchase online.

For more information about the Somerset Patriots Black Yankees tribute game on August 27, click here.

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