The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum: Kansas City’s Grand Slam
By Katy Schamberger
After a long, cold winter, there’s nothing better than Opening Day, unless it’s a baseball adventure of another sort: visiting the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City’s historic 18th & Vine Jazz district.
What started as a one-room office in the Lincoln Building in the early 1990s has since grown to a 10,000-square-foot museum that shares facility space with the American Jazz Museum. Inside, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is a thoughtfully curated tribute to the Negro Leagues, which formed as an organized league structure in 1920.
History of the Negro Leagues
The league “was formed under the guidance of Andrew ‘Rube’ Foster—a former player, manager and owner for the Chicago American Giants,” according to the museum. “In a meeting held at the Paseo YMCA in Kansas City, Mo., Foster and a few other Midwestern team owners joined to form the Negro National League. Soon, rival leagues formed in Eastern and Southern states, bringing the thrills and innovative play of black baseball to major urban centers and rural countryside in the U.S., Canada and Latin America.”
The history of the Negro Leagues is detailed throughout this immersive museum, which combines multimedia, memorabilia and research to highlight this compelling—yet often overlooked—chapter of sports history. Lifestyle exhibits also illustrate businesses and fashion of the Negro Leagues era. Twelve life-sized bronze sculptures of Negro League players comprise what’s arguably the most treasured exhibit in the museum, 10 of which are positioned on the Field of Legends, a mock baseball diamond. Be sure to also save time for several short film exhibits that detail information about the museum and league history.
You don’t have to be a baseball buff to appreciate the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. And as Dave Barr writes for the museum’s official blog, recognizing and paying tribute to this part of our history is a worthwhile pursuit.
“The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum was created for the very purpose of preserving those stories and memories along with telling the story of some of the greatest players in baseball history. As the number of surviving Negro Leagues players continues to dwindle, it is all of our responsibility to spread the knowledge of those players who came before.”
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for ages 65 and up, $6 for children ages 5-12 and free for children under five years. Group rates are available.