To coincide with Black History Month, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum and Dreams Fulfilled launched a Kickstarter Campaign to create a series of officially licensed, limited-edition vintage Negro Leagues bobbleheads, the first-ever of the old Negro Leagues teams.
The goal was to raise $7,500 for a bobblehead series to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro National League on May 2, 1920, with bobbleheads of 10 Negro Leagues teams – and only 100 sets of the bobbleheads would be made.
The Kickstarter goal was hit within 24 hours after launching.
“We have been thrilled with the reception for the Negro Leagues bobbleheads,” said Phil Sklar, co-founder and CEO of the Milwaukee-based National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum. “The Negro Leagues have always been underrepresented in terms of bobbleheads. We’re excited to be playing a part in honoring the players and the league. Negro Leagues teams never had the classic, iconic bobblehead from the 1960s until now and we think collectors and people who appreciate the Negro Leagues are excited to have the opportunity to have bobbleheads featuring the Negro Leagues teams.”
Due to the overwhelming demand and support through Kickstarter, Sklar and his team pushed the plan from 10 teams to 16 – and rushed production, too.
“Since the Kickstarter hit the goal within 24 hours, we accelerated the production process, and all 16 bobbleheads are in production with expected delivery by June to people who backed the campaign or have purchased them since the campaign concluded on February 29,” he said.
The teams featured in the bobblehead set include the Baltimore Elite Giants, Birmingham Black Barons, Detroit Stars, Hilldale Club, Homestead Grays, Indianapolis Clowns, Kansas City Monarchs, Newark Eagles, Philadelphia Stars, Pittsburgh Crawfords and St. Louis Stars. After hitting the initial goal, five additional bobbleheads were added: Chicago American Giants, New York Black Yankees, New York Cubans, Philadelphia Stars and the Kansas City Monarchs with their road uniform.
In addition, it was also announced that a bonus 16 bobblehead would be produced, incorporating the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum logo and the Negro Leagues Centennial logo.
“I’m pretty optimistic, so I was confident that (the Kickstarter Campaign) would do well. I didn’t think it would hit the goal that quickly, and it picked up momentum in the final days to (ultimately) more than double the initial goal,” Sklar said. “(Kickstarter supporters) came from all over the country. The teams were primarily located in the Midwest and (on the) East Coast, and we do see more people backing the campaign and purchasing the bobbleheads from those regions, but there are people from all over the country who supported it.
“There were some people who bought multiple sets, which was a bit surprising, but given the very limited nature, I think people realize these aren’t just a great collectible for a personal collection, but also a potential investment or a keepsake that can be passed down to future generations.”
Sklar confirmed that the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum has some sets remaining for sale and the teams can be purchased individually, while supplies last, in the Museum’s online store.
A second version is in the works, Sklar said. Additional teams may be added in the future, too.
The full set, which includes all 16 of the individually numbered gold-based bobbleheads, is available for $375, while the individual teams are available for $30 while they last.
“I have a great appreciation for the Negro Leagues that stretches back over 20 years (to) when I (went) the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (in Kansas City),” Sklar said. “I was a huge baseball fan but didn’t know anything about the Negro Leagues at that time. That experience opened my eyes to the discrimination that the Negro Leagues players faced and the perseverance they had. The players paved the way for equal opportunities for people of all races, not just in sports, but in all aspects of life. There is still a lot of room to grow in terms of equality, and keeping the legacy of the league alive will help ensure the past is not repeated and hopefully pave the way for continued change.
“When we were approached a few years ago to partner on the initial Negro Leagues bobblehead series, I was quick to jump on board, because it was something I was personally very passionate about.”
The most popular, most sought-after bobbleheads likely will be the Kansas City Monarchs, St. Louis Stars, Detroit Stars and Birmingham Black Barons.
A portion of all sales will benefit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
On Dreams Fulfilled
“Dreams Fulfilled has done a terrific job of organizing the centennial exhibition at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and developing a line of collectibles and souvenirs that honor the players and the leagues. In addition to the bobbleheads, they produced a few different, limited-edition postcard sets, magnets and other items to celebrate the centennial. We were excited when they approached us with this opportunity and we appreciate their desire to make the bobbleheads historically accurate. They (have such) attention to detail, which is important with a series like this.” – Phil Sklar
On the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
“The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is a true gem and a major asset that must live on forever. They do a tremendous job of sharing the history of the Negro Leagues with the world, both at the physical museum in Kansas City and through the online resources that they provide. It’s an honor to not only be teaming with them on this project, but to help support their mission through the sales of the bobbleheads.” – Phil Sklar