Major League Baseball has unveiled a mural in Washington, D.C., Thursday honoring two pioneering Negro Leagues baseball players.
The painting adorns the wall in the alley between Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street and the Lincoln Theatre. It depicts trailblazers Mamie “Peanut” Johnson and Josh Gibson.
In 1953, Johnson became the first female player to pitch in the Negro Leagues when she joined the Indianapolis Clowns.
Johnson began her semi-por career with the all-male Alexandria All-Stars and St. Cyprian’s, which played on Banneker Field in Southwest D.C. “Peanut” was one of only three women to ever play in the Negro Leagues.
Gibson, a 12-time Negro Leagues All-Star, was a catcher for the Homestead Grays, which played at Griffith Stadium in Northwest D.C. In 1972, Gibson became the second Negro Leagues player to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Artist Aniekan Udofia painted the mural. Udofia is also the artist behind the Ben’s Chili Bowl mural unveiled last summer that showcases 15 African-American legends, including Marion Barry, Jim Vance, Dave Chappelle and Eleanor Holmes Norton.
“To be able to have Josh Gibson and Maime “Peanut” Johnson and the Washington Grays on the mural with Barack Obama, Prince, and Muhammad Ali, is not only an honor, but it’s a blessing,” Josh Gibson’s great-grandson, Sean, said during the unveiling. “One thing to always teach: we have to keep our history alive, and that’s what Ben’s Chili Bowl is doing.”
“When I was called upon to create this mural, I was really honored,” Udofia said. “I was instantly inspired, and I tapped deep into my background as an illustrator to create a narrative, a story that matched the history and the story of Maime Johnson and Josh Gibson.”
The unveiling coincides with the start of MLB All-Star Week in D.C., which will culminate with the game on Tuesday, July 17th.