Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

Past becomes present in K.C.

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City is home to a vast assortment of jerseys, pictures, bats, balls and other historical artifacts. They all come together to chronicle the rich history of the Negro Leagues.

One of the stories I found most interesting was that of Rube Foster. In 1920, Foster, a former baseball player, made history when he founded the Negro National League, the first successful black baseball league and essentially the model for the Negro Leagues. Foster’s league was immensely popular, but folded in 1931, its demise attributed to the Great Depression and Foster’s death.

The Negro American League largely replaced the NNL in 1937, and lasted all the way until 1960. The leagues collectively featured some of the game’s biggest stars, including Willie Mays, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Jackie Robinson.

Robinson’s groundbreaking MLB debut in 1947, however, spelled the demise of the once immensely popular leagues. He opened the doors for blacks to make it to the big leagues, which in turn drained away much of the Negro Leagues’ talent.

Despite living in Missouri for my entire life, this trip was my first to the museum, and I found it incredibly informative. Without a doubt, it would take multiple visits to see everything it has to offer.

I’d heard of most of the names that I saw in the museum before, but I had never seen physical evidence of their history. The most rewarding part of the visit had to be seeing various family members of former NNL and NAL players roaming the museum alongside our group.

–Tashan Reed