Hardcore baseball fans and historians alike will not want to miss visiting the comprehensive Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) in downtown Kansas City, MO. Come discover the lesser-known history of African American baseball that existed before the sport became fully integrated.
When Jackie Robinson was recruited to break baseball’s color barrier, he wasn’t plucked from obscurity but the from the Kansas City Monarchs. While the desegregation of baseball changed both the game and our country forever, it also spelled the end of a great many proud leagues and teams.
Forming the Negro Leagues
Organized baseball gained a foothold in America after the Civil War but, like so much else of that time, it was marred by segregation. Despite a community of imminently capable players, African Americans were not allowed to join.
Baseball fanatics being what they are, this injunction did not stop African Americans from playing the game. Instead, beginning in the 1860’s, they joined traveling teams. When Rube Foster launched the Negro National League in 1920, they joined it and the others that followed.
The Negro League games were exceedingly popular – and not just with Americans of color. During their heyday, the leagues qualified as the third-largest African American–owned business in the nation. Yet, after integration, the teams and leagues simply faded away.
Visiting the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum preserves and exhibits this fascinating and mostly lost history.
Visitors will enjoy seeing memorabilia from leagues like the Negro National League, the Eastern Colored League, and the Negro American League. Learn about such nearly forgotten teams as the Birmingham Giants, the Louisville Buckeyes, the Houston Eagles, and the St. Louis Stars.
Perhaps best of all, you’ll get an in-depth refresher on (or introduction to) the leagues’ many MVPs. Legends like Oscar Charleston, John Henry “Pop” Lloyd, Turkey Stearnes, Ray Dandridge, and – of course – Satchel Paige.
Though the the last of the Negro Leagues folded up in the 1960s, their legacy and eventual integration are an important part of American history. Come discover it at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
1824 Paseo, Kansas City, MO 64108
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 9am to 6pm, Sundays: 12pm to 6pm
The NLBM is part of Museums at 18th & Vine in Kansas City, MO. The same location is also home to The American Jazz Museum. Check them both out for a fascinating day of music, sports, and history!
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