Sunday, February 08, 2009

Baseball Place No. 3: The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

It was just a coincidence that, while on an assignment in Kansas City, my interviews were wrapped up with just enough time for a little side trip.

And our timing could not have been better.

Josh Pahigian’s stop No. 3 in his “101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out” is the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which is connected to a jazz museum, another near place to visit.

What made our visit even more special was a chance encounter with Buck O’Neil.

This was in 2006, and days before the Baseball Hall of Fame announced it would be enshrining a large group of Negro League players, managers and owners.

It was widely believed that O’Neil, a 94-year-old gentleman and great baseball ambassador, would be among those selected.

He was a frequent visitor to the Negro League museum, and on this day he was to be interviewed about the selection.

Our story about that day is here

And days later we learned that 16 people were picked, but O’Neil fell one vote short. It was a sign of his graciousness that he was on hand in Cooperstown to help induct those people.

We lost Buck O’Neil on Oct. 6 of that year. It was an honor to meet him.

The Negro Leagues and Jazz Museum is located in an historical district with renovated shops and theaters.


Confluence City said...

I notice you don't say much about the museum. As much as I cherish the concept, the experience of it wasn't what I wanted. Just like MLB imploded the Negro Leagues after integration by taking its stars, the guys in KC have to compete with Cooperstown for memorabilia. Still, bless that place.

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

I think you hit it on the head. It was a little lacking, but it's also fairly new and growing. There were a lot of photos and reading, but it was a little shy in terms of artifacts.

The bronze statues were really neat.

I think it will get better and better and they grow and add to their collection.

I learned a great deal, and I'm thrilled I went. But it's not in the ballpark, so to say, with Cooperstown.