WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Monday honored former baseball players in the Negro League, a haven for African-American players who for decades were prevented from competing with white players in professional baseball.

The White House said Obama invited about a dozen players to the White House to mark their contributions to American history, civil rights and athletics. The players competed for teams like the Philadelphia Stars, New York Black Yankees, Indianapolis Clowns and Boston Blues.

The Negro League thrived in the early part of the 20th century. Its decline started after Jackie Robinson in 1947 became the first African-American to play Major League Baseball in modern times, clearing the way for other black players to compete in the major leagues. The league disbanded a few years later.

(AP Photo: Former Negro League player Minnie Minoso)

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