With Major League Baseball’s annual All-Star Game being held in Kansas City this year, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is receiving plenty of attention this weekend. Located in the same city, efforts are being made so that the African American age of the sandlot, hardball, and pine tar should never be forgotten.
The museum was founded in 1990 by a group of former Negro Leagues players, including the late Kansas City Monarchs star Buck O’Neil, who was featured in filmmaker Ken Burns’ PBS documentary Baseball. The museum thrived until O’Neil died in 2006.
In conjunction with the All-Star Game, the museum has put together two free exhibitions, They Were All Stars and Baseball: America’s Game, which are on display through September 9th. Both highlight elements of an era before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, and all the way through 1959, when the Boston Red Sox became the last team to integrate.
On Saturday night, Sen. Roy Blount and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II are hosting Buck, BBQ and Baseball, an evening of entertainment and a wicked amateur barbecue contest. The following morning, Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson will participate in a discussion of the game moderated by fellow Hall of Famer Dave Winfield. A reunion of former Negro Leagues players who became MLB All-Stars will follow — seven of the 20 are still alive; Willie Mays, Don Newcombe, Ernie Banks, Monte Irvin, Minnie Minoso and George Altman. Phillies slugger Ryan Howard is hosting an invitation-only fundraiser after Monday night’s Home Run Derby; and an All Star Game watch party is planned for Tuesday at the museum.
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum will likely experience a significant windfall, financially and in terms of awareness, possibly ensuring its future for years to come. Officials expect to make upwards of $500,000 over the weekend. The museum is located by the American Jazz Museum. The Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association are aggressively promoting these locations as places to enjoy. These are wonderful stops for tourists over the next week.
For lovers of the Grand Old Game, this is the go-to place, if you can’t travel to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Until next time> “never forget”