BEAVERTON—This February, as part of Black History Month, Nike is celebrating the accomplishments, heritage and history of Negro Leagues Baseball with its new Untold Truth Collection. The new line of urban sportswear showcases six legendary teams of the Negro Baseball Leagues: Chicago American Giants, Kansas City Monarchs, NewYorkCubans, HomesteadGrays, Memphis Red Sox and Philadelphia Stars.
The apparel was created in conjunction with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to pay homage to the extraordinary athletic ability and indomitable spirit of these players. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the apparel will go to the museum.
Apparel evoking the spirit ofChicagoAmerican Giants,KansasCity Monarchs, and New York Cubans is available at Niketown in downtown Portland as well as at select stores throughout the country. On April 1, apparel celebrating the Homestead Grays, the Memphis Red Soxandthe Philadelphia Stars will be in stores.
Nike previewed select items from the Untold Truth Collection at the Helen Mills Theater in New York last month. Among the guests were 94-year-old John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil, a former Negro League player who became the first African American coach in the Major Leagues; and Florida Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis, acontemporary National League All-Star. The two shared the league's rich history, enduring legacy and impact still felt by today's players and today's game.
"I know personally howimportantthese playerswere,"said Willis. "Men like Buck O'Neil, Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige paved the way for me and many others to succeed in baseball on our merits and not our color. We owe them a lot."
Nike began discussions with the Negro Leagues BaseballMuseumto research and develop the collection more than a year ago. Using original team logos and colors, the collection aims to capture the essence of what the teams presented while bringing the little-known facts of the league's story to life.
The high batting averages and pitching stats that the playerscontinually achieved is a testament to their physical and emotional strength and endurance. Innovations created by the league, like mobile lighting systems, shin guards and batting helmets, continue to be a necessary part of today's game. The Untold Truth Collection is Nike's way of ensuring the public knows their stories and of supporting the museum's operation.
"To try to capture the look of the Negro Leagues' clothing and translate it into a modern day style, we had to study history," said Sheldon Donnell, manager of the new apparel line. "We looked at hundreds of photos and films. For example, Nike matched the color of the Kansas City Monarchs' footwear to the color of the team's road uniform. In the end, we hope anyone who wears this apparel will appreciate the attention to detail while honoring and savoring the history."
"A lot about the game has changed, andthankfully, much of it is for the better," said an emotional Buck O'Neil. "There is still work to do, but today we haveaNegro Leagues Baseball Museum, we have Black owners, managers and executives of teams . … The … collection represents more than a jersey or a pair of sneakers. It represents our lives, our story, our legacy."
For photographs and more details about the collection and the history of the Negro Leagues, visit www.nikeuntoldtruth.com.