In case you missed it, yesterday, the minor league team Kansas City T-Bones announced they have changed their name to the Kansas City Monarchs. The name change comes as part of a partnership with the Negro Leagues Museum (also located in Kansas City).
In case you missed the original livestream, the recording of the Negro Leagues Museum’s conversation about Buck O’Neil can still be watched on YouTube. The stories these gentlemen told about Buck were a joy to listen to, and they also had a great conversation about race and baseball in general. If you get the opportunity, it’s definitely worth your time.
If you need something to do on Friday, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum will be hosting a conversation between Bob Costas, Joe Posnanski, Bob Kendrick, and Ken Burns in celebration of the great Buck O’Neil. This Friday, November 13th would have been Buck’s 109th birthday, and it sounds like the plan is for this group of speakers to share their memories and stories about the man, the ballplayer, the legend.
TELLING TALES ABOUT BUCK! Join me, @KenBurns, Bob Costas & @JPosnanski this Friday as we share stories about the legendary Buck O’Neil on his 109th B-Day! Catch the conversation live on the NLBM’s @Facebook & @YouTube channel! @MLB @Royals @Sut_ESPN @MLBNetwork @vgregorian RT pic.twitter.com/08ZtbP9bwX— Bob Kendrick (@nlbmprez) November 10, 2020
Buck O’Neil is hailed as a legend, especially here in the Kansas City area. Not only was O’Neil a great ballplayer, but his achievements off the field were arguably even greater. He not only worked to spread interest in the Negro leagues, he also played a huge part in the establishment of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go on a work-sponsored trip to Kansas City to see the American Jazz Museum, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and Sporting Park. Information regarding the tour was sent out a couple weeks ago, and naturally, upon seeing the Negro Leagues museum on the list, I jumped at the opportunity to sign up. Initially, I found myself placed on the waiting list, as over 140 people signed up for 98 spots on the tour, but with one day remaining, enough people canceled their reservations to grant me a spot of my own.
I hadn’t seen the Jazz and Negro Leagues museums in approximately ten years, so I was eager to revisit them. With such a large group, we were split in two, and my group started in the Jazz Museum. As part of our program, an employee of the museum spent about half-an-hour speaking to us first in a somewhat-dramatized fashion about various figures during that time-period. Ironically, she also mentioned at one point that there was also a video available that we wouldn’t have time to watch during our time, and I found myself thinking that we would have been better off watching the video than watching this lady act, especially since she spoke so low at times that I eventually lost track and stopped paying attention.
Once she finally cut us loose, however, I was much happier about the experience. The Jazz Museum is rather small, though one of the best parts about it is listening to the wide variety of music tracks where various styles and techniques are demonstrated. I also enjoyed the opportunity to read and learn more about Count Basie, the great jazz pianist whom I’ve admired since my own piano-playing days.
Finally, it was on to the Negro Leagues Museum. Fortunately, this time we weren’t subjected to the animated ramblings of a wanna-be Broadway soliloquist and could jump right into the meat of the museum.
It doesn’t appear that too much has changed within the museum in the last ten years, but then, once history has occurred, it cannot be changed either (barring the appearance of a mad scientist with a DeLorean, of course). There was still the field with the bronze baseball players, the timelines of events throughout the path, the uniforms, the lockers, the equipment. I don’t recall the Golden Gloves on display during my last trip through, but somehow, I’m pretty sure they were there too.
If nothing else, going through both of these museums serves as a good reminder of where our country has been, and how much work we have yet to do with regards to segregation and equality. Every culture has so much to offer to the world in general, and it’s a shame when we, as a people, deliberately wall ourselves off from exposure to those experiences.
Lunch at the Legends followed the museums. After a tasty lunch of chicken a la mer and a bit of browsing through a vareity of stores, it was on to Sporting Park, home of Sporting KC.
Throughout the tour, I found myself thinking that it’s too bad that I’m not a soccer fan, because this stadium is truly impressive. We were shown the variety of suites and other spaces available for a wide range of events. We also had the opportunity to see the press room and the locker room.
Those chairs in the locker room, we were told, are $4,000 Ferrari seats, complete with cup holders, USB ports, and outlets. Yes, I had the chance to sit in one, and yes, they are very comfortable. Clearly, our soccer team is enjoying the good life here in Kansas City. Somehow I doubt that either the Royals or the Chiefs are enjoying such luxurious amenities.
I don’t know what next year’s tour, if there is one, will hold. If I get the opportunity to make suggestions, however, a tour of Kauffman Stadium would be at the top of my list. As many times as I’ve been to the K, there are still parts of it that I have not seen (the high-roller suites, namely), and I would be completely star-struck by the chance to sit at Alex Gordon’s or Salvador Perez’s locker. I can only hope.