While baseball crosses all ethnic, cultural, gender, racial, and socioeconomic barriers some of America’s greatest baseball players never played in the Major Leagues because of segregation. Hubert "Bert" Simmons, who played for the Baltimore Elite Giants of the Negro Leagues, was one of those greats. His dream was to create a museum to honor the Negro Leagues' players and their storied past. With much drive and determination, the first Negro Leagues Baseball Museum opened at Lochearn Presbyterian Church in September 2009, two months before Bert passed away. Due to limited resources, the museum was open by appointment only.
The museum, previously operating under the name Negro Leagues Baseball Museum of Maryland, Inc., had been housed in various temporary locations since 1996 until the County offered to give it a permanent home in the new library. In addition to Audrey Simmons, Bert’s widow, a great deal of the credit for creating this museum goes to Ray Banks, a longtime friend of Hubert Simmons, known as the "Ambassador" for his constant effort in keeping the memorabilia on exhibit throughout the Baltimore area and keeping Simmons' dream alive.
Determined to gain additional exposure, the former Negro leaguers, their widows and friends of Simmons forged a relationship with Baltimore County. In November 2013, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced that the county would provide a permanent home for the "Bert Simmons" museum exhibition of memorabilia and artifacts and contribute an additional $125,000 in helping to obtain additional memorabilia, showcases and pictures for the museum. On March 27, 2014, five years after his death and 73 years after he began playing baseball in the Negro Leagues, Bert Simmons' dream has become a reality with a bona fide, professionally designed museum.
The Hubert V. Simmons Museum of Negro Leagues Baseball is located on floors one through three of the building in the Owings Mills Branch. The displays highlight the rich history of the Negro Leagues through photographs, graphic panels, artifacts and memorabilia of both Maryland and the U.S. Negro Leagues. The museum is a non-profit and founded in 2009 by the late Hubert V. Simmons, who played for the Baltimore Elite Giants of the Negro Leagues. With devotion from Simmon's family, former Negro Leaguers and friends of Simmons the museum has found a new home here at the Owings Mills Metro Centre. Special thanks to Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and the Baltimore County Council. Self-guided tours of the museum can be taken at your leisure.
You can learn more about the Simmons Museum on the tourism site for Baltimore County and you can browse photos of the museum as well as the grand opening ceremony on March 27, 2014 via BCPL's Flickr photos.