Satchel Paige, Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson were all very famous baseball players, but they all have something else in common. They all got their start in the
Negro Baseball League
That league started in
in 1920 and grew to several teams in its 40 year history.
It dissolved in 1960 after
Major League Baseball
fully integrated black players into the sport.
A museum in Kansas City takes you back in time to show you the history of the Negro Leagues.
"The look, the sounds are very reminiscent of being in an old ball park," Bob Kendrick, President of the museum said.
Your tour of the Negro Leagues Museum starts with a look at the Field of Legends. Ten legendary players of the league, but you just can't quite get to the field because of the chicken wire, which is symbolic of how fans were segregated at major league games.
Then you wind down the hallway as if you're in a real baseball stadium. Turn the corner, and you see a timeline of American history. Just above the timeline are baseball related events.
"Many great changes that occurred in our society socially, occurred as a result of baseball," Kendrick said.
Through most of the museum, you can see the Field of Legends, but you just can't get to it. More symbolism here because back in the day, that's how the black players felt. They knew they were good enough to play with the white players in the major leagues, they just couldn't get to the field.
"You see, we wanted our visitors, particularly our young visitors to at least remotely understand what segregation was like," Kendrick said.
There is so much history in this museum, that even the greatest history buff wouldn't know.
"One of the little known facts is night baseball originated in the Negro Leagues," Kendrick explained.
Bob Kendrick is the President of the Negro Leagues Museum, and says history books will tell you the first night game in baseball happened in 1935 in Cincinnati as the
St. Louis Cardinals
. However, the
Kansas City Monarchs
, of the Negro League, started having night games in 1930. Kendrick says the moral of the story is if you don't control the pen, you don't control the story.
"It's a story of pride. It's a story of passion," Kendrick said.
Kendrick says the main purpose of this museum is to take control of that pen and share the story they way it should have been.
At this museum, you'll find one of the world's largest collections of single signed baseballs by Negro League players. It was donated by Geddy Lee, the lead singer of the Canadian rock band Rush.
When asked if the museum wanted the collection, "Naturally, we said yes, but we were thinking three or four that he picked up at auction. Turned out to be 200," Kendrick said.
Geddy Lee has since donated another 200 autographed baseballs to the museum.
"If you're not a baseball fan, that's ok. If you're a fan of American history, you're going to love this museum. If you're a fan of the underdog overcoming adversity to go on to greatness, you're going to love this museum," Kendrick said.
And at the end of the tour, after reading all of the history, you've earned the right to take this field, just as these players did.
There is a $10.00 charge for adults, and a $9.00 dollar charge for children.
A senior rate is also available.
You should also know the museum is closed on Mondays.