Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

At one time, my life revolved around the base path. Literally every waking moment from early spring (I’m talking SNOW on the ground still people, it was Northeastern Ohio.), until very late fall was spent playing baseball. I loved the game, the strategy, the history. I read every book I could find and amassed quite a collection of baseball cards.

A couple cards in particular held my attention as a young teenager and fan. These cards were produced throughout the eighties and featured grainy photographs of players whose names I’d never heard of. Sure there were a few I knew, guys like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Al Kaline… all the usual suspects. But then there were these guys who played professional baseball in a thing called the “Negro Leagues.”

They had great names: Leroy “Satchel” Paige, “Cool Papa” Bell, “Bullet Joe” Rogan and “Rube” Foster. These guys had stories; great, exciting stories that came from a genuine love of the game. As I read more and more about the league, I was captured by the fact that, though the league was considered the “lesser” league, it’s quite possible that some of the games best players, not just of the era, but best EVER, played as barnstormers.

Once, Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner was asked “who is the best player in baseball?” He answered, “if you mean organized baseball it’s Babe Ruth, if you’re asking about the best player in ALL of baseball, it’s John Henry Lloyd.” At the time, John Henry (or “Pop”) was not allowed to play in the majors, but was considered by his contemporaries, even white players, to be the best player in the game.

So I couldn’t wait to visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, remembering these greats and perhaps rekindling some my love of baseball.

This museum, which celebrates both the Negro Leagues and the city’s storied jazz history, is located in Kansas City in a newly renovated area called 18th and Vine with other shops and bars. It seems safe enough, but we were instructed not to venture too far away by foot.

We grabbed our tickets planning only to enjoy the baseball museum (since we had some other deadlines to attend). Unfortunately, the museum does not allow pictures, so we have to rely on this link to show you some of the great exhibits within the museum.

(Side note, how stupid do you have to be to set up a museum and not allow photography? For God’s sake people, I understand your need to keep copyrighted materials controlled, but 98% of your visitors want a simply document of their time at your exhibit… more later on this I’m sure!)

We think, in addition to the movie presentations, the best part of this exhibit was the scale model baseball diamond featuring bronzed life-sized statues of the top players in each position. These guys were the real thing. Ball players, entertainers, businessmen… this is definitely a must-see for any baseball fan.