As the Royals are in the middle of writing a new chapter in the story of Kansas City and Major League Baseball history – celebrate the unprecedented history of Kansas City as the capital of Negro Leagues Baseball with this new t-shirt available at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Gift Shop and at NLBM.com.
“We wanted to create a movement with this shirt,” Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick said. “A rallying cry that celebrates history, heritage and the winning spirit of professional baseball in Kansas City.
Get yours today!
The 1942 Negro Leagues World Series was a baseball dream come true.
It had everything that you would ask for from a Fall Classic. In total, seven Hall of Famers took to the diamond. You want a great match-up between a pitcher and hitter? 1942 had that with Satchel Paige versus Josh Gibson. You want controversy? 1942 had that too. Try this one on for size. One team is getting manhandled and so what do they do? They recruit players from other teams to come play – no joke! Want another one? Five different stadiums opened their gates and not one official win was recorded in Kansas City.
The Kansas City Monarchs came into the World Series from the West and the Homestead Grays from the East. It was the first time since 1927 that the East and West met after the collapse of the Colored Eastern League. Sometimes you don’t always get the best two teams playing for a championship. That was not the case in 1942.
Kansas City was good. I mean GOOD. Kansas City won more than 70-percent of their games in 1942 and won their fifth Negro American League tile in six seasons.
“…1942 was my favorite year…the best team I ever played with. Someone once asked Newt Joseph who he would take with him if he could play in the majors, and Newt replied, ‘The whole Monarchs team.’ That’s the way I felt about the ’42 Monarchs. I do believe we could have given the New York Yankees a run for their money that year.” –Buck O’Neil, I Was Right On Time.
Not to be outdone, the Grays fielded a team loaded with huge bats and names. Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard led Homestead who had beaten Monarchs ace Paige twice in extra innings in the preseason.
Kansas City jumped out to a quick one game to none lead in the series after getting great pitching performances from Jack Matchett and Satchel Paige holding the powerful Grays to just two hits en route to an 8-0 win. The Monarchs scored runs every inning from the sixth frame on aided by six Homestead errors.
Paige took the mound in relief again in Game 2. The Monarchs led 2-0 and would increase that bulge to 5-0 before the Grays would get on the board for the first time in the series scoring four runs in the bottom of the eighth. Kansas City would tack on three more runs in the ninth and would increase it’s World Series lead to 2-0 with an 8-4 win. What many remember from this contest was the crafty Paige getting out of a bases loaded jam by striking out Gibson on three-pitches.
Game three in New York’s Yankee Stadium saw a role reversal. Satchel Paige started the game but was relieved by Matchett after just nine-batters and giving up a two-run blast to Howard Easterling. It was the first Gray lead of the series. Kansas City went on to score nine runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series with a 9-3 win.
Things would get odd- to put it lightly – before Game 4 would officially get in the books. Seventy-one years later, it’s still difficult to believe or describe.
Here goes – it was common practice to schedule a second game to form a doubleheader as weather, stadium availability and other factors came in to play. So Game 4 would be played right after the Monarchs Game 3 win. It would be counted as an exhibition and the Monarchs won easily 5-0. I don’t understand it to this day. A game that doesn’t count in the middle of a World Series just seems crazy.
You thought that was nuts? A WEEK later (and you thought TV schedules extended series these days!) the Grays and Monarchs would battle once again. This time in Kansas City’s Ruppert Stadium as the home team tried to wrap things up in front of the home crowd.
The Grays were a MASH unit with several players banged up. So Homestead signed players from the Philadelphia Stars and Newark Eagles – namely pitcher Leon Day to play for the Grays the remainder of the series. Kansas City played the game under protest and day held them to just one run as Homestead won their first game of the series 4-1. But in going with this story, it did not count and another game was scheduled as a committee formed by members of both leagues upheld the Monarchs protest.
Monarchs secretary and business manager William “Dizzy” Dismukes stated “We didn’t play the Homestead Grays. We lost to the National League All-Stars.”
The final game of this most unusual and talent laden series took place in Philadelphia after originally being scheduled in Chicago’s Wrigley Field. Weather moved the contest to Shibe Park and the Monarchs starting pitcher Satchel Paige was MIA. Once again Joe Matchett was called upon to start the game and struggled giving up five unearned runs in 3 2/3 innings. Paige, after being stopped for speeding (can’t make this stuff up) immediately relieved Matchett once he arrived at the stadium. Paige held the Grays scoreless the rest of the way as Kansas City would battle back finally taking the lead with two-runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth to win the game 9-5 and the series four games to none.
The 1942 title would be the last for the Monarchs while the Grays would return to the World Series the next two seasons winning the both.
The Royals and Giants can only hope to top the 1942 Fall Classic.
Dave Barr (@daveabarr)
As the 2014 World Series gets underway this week between the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals, I thought we would look back at the very first Negro Leagues fall classic between the Kansas City Monarchs (55-22) and the Hilldale Daisies (47-23).
This was the first official championship in Negro Leagues baseball. Before 1924, there were some post-season series but never anything recognized throughout the Negro National League and Eastern Colored League.
After much discussion and negotiation between the NNL’s Rube Foster and the ECL commissioner Ed Bolden – the best of nine, yes best of NINE game series got underway on October 3, 1924 in Philadelphia’s Baker Bowl.
There were a lot of firsts and oddities surrounding this first Negro Leagues World Series. The most odd compared to today’s game is for sure the format of best of nine and the fact that this championship series was played in four different cities in four different stadiums. Only the Monarchs’ Muehlebach Field was a consistent venue as the games on Sunday couldn’t be played in Philadelphia because of Pennsylvania blue laws so Hillsdale home games were moved to Maryland Baseball Park in Baltimore. The final three games of the series were played in Schorling’s Park in Chicago. Hilldale never enjoyed a “home field advantage” because they never played a game in their home stadium due to small capacity.
Umpires were another interesting part of this series as both Negro Leagues umpires and white umpires from the International League and American Association were employed. There were very few rules that were different but the fact that the spitball was legal took some time for the minor league umpires to wrap their arms around.
After three games , the series was tied at 1-1-1. Yes, that’s right a tie. It happened in Game 3 as Hilldale pitcher threw 12-innings and walked away with a no decision. The Monarchs were extremely fortunate to come away with a tie as they committed five-errors and had leads in the ninth and twelfth innings but couldn’t put the Daisies away. The game was eventually called in the 13th inning because of darkness.
This first Negro Leagues World Series went back and forth leading up to Game 8. Many consider this contest as one of the greatest games in Negro Leagues baseball history. The Monarchs and Daisies were tied at three-games apiece with that “kiss your sister tie”. Hilldale held a 2-0 lead going into the ninth after scoring single runs in the sixth and seventh frames. Three base hits and a crucial error by the Daisies Louis Santop allowed the Monarchs to score three in the bottom of the ninth – coming away with a 3-2 win and a 4-3 series lead. With the win, the Monarchs had now won three-games in a row as Bullet Rogan won for the second time in the series.
Hilldale bounced back the following evening with an impressive 5-3 win turning the tables on the Monarchs by scoring one in the eighth and twice more in the ninth to come from behind and secure the win forcing an unbelievable TENTH game of the series. Nip Winters got the win- his third of the series. No MVP was named but if you had to pick one, Winters would have to be a top candidate with his 3-1 record, a 1.16 ERA and 21 strikeouts.
It would all come down to the final game of this historic series. Future Hall of Famer Jose Mendez, who had surgery right before the series began – was absolutely amazing blanking the Daisies on just three hits in horrible Chicago weather as he out dueled Scrip Lee who himself had thrown a shutout through seven before the Monarchs got to him for five in the eighth.
The Monarchs would win this first series five games to four with one stalemate. All told, Kansas City added one more title in 1942 as they defeated the Homestead Grays.
Dave Barr (@daveabarr)
There is never a bad time to visit the Negro leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City but admittedly there are some occasions that are just too cool to pass up.
While in Kansas City for the Royals and San Francisco Giants World Series – stop by the museum and celebrate baseball’s history and the 90th anniversary of the Kansas City Monarch’s 1924 inaugural Negro Leagues World Series title.
The NLBM is celebrating the Kansas City Royals quest for a second world title and remembering the 1924 Kansas City Monarchs, who won the inaugural Negro Leagues World Series 90 years ago this month (they won the final game against the Hilldale Daisies on Monday, Oct. 20, 1924). Visit the NLBM through the World Series and get the Monarchs Pak for $24. The offer includes adult admission to the NLBM, a 1924 Monarchs Cap and a special edition deck of Negro Leagues playing cards.
Some of the events scheduled include:
Tuesday, Oct. 21:
6 p.m.: The NLBM in partnership with the City of KCMO will host a FREE Watch party at the NLBM. Celebrate the Kansas City Monarchs historic 1924 World Series title while cheering on the Kansas City Royals. The event is free to the public and is hosted by 3rd District Council members Jermaine Reed and Melba Curls.
Wednesday, Oct. 22
10 a.m.: Reading Around the Bases with special guest Sharon Robinson. Robinson will read to students from Faxon Elementary School and participate in a public Q&A about her heroic father, Jackie Robinson. Program is free with paid admission to the NLBM.
11:30 a.m.: Royal Memories with special guests Frank White, Willie Wilson and Danny Jackson. The three members of the 1985 Kansas City Royals will share memories of their amazing title run and share thoughts about the 2014 Royals. The program is free with paid admission to the NLBM.
1:00 p.m.: Former Negro Leaguer Ulysses Hollimon will be joined by Negro League umpire Bob Motley and former Major Leaguer Diego Segui for an autograph session. The autographs are free (limit two items) with paid admission to the NLBM.
To learn more about the first Negro leagues World Series and Kansas City’s first title as the Monarchs beat Hilldale in 1924 – check out this story from the blog.
The latest information on upcoming events and happenings at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum from the desk of NLBM president Bob Kendrick.
Salsa & Soul (6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, Sept. 26)
Hit the dance floor at the NLBM for “Salsa & Soul.” It’s the rhythmic grand finale celebration of the museum’s critically acclaimed “Negro Leagues Beisbol” exhibit. Enjoy a festive evening of music, dance (Salsa demonstrations & lessons), food and fun as we celebrate the cultural and historical connection between the Negro Leagues and Spanish-speaking countries around the globe. Sample specialty drinks provided by McCormick Distillery. The event is FREE for NLBM members ($10 for the public). Space is very limited! For tickets or to RSVP, call (816) 221-1920 or visit www.nlbm.com.
Negro Leagues Beisbol
Developed in partnership with Sprint, The Kauffman Foundation and Major League Baseball. The exhibit opened, free to the public, in May in the museum’s Changing Gallery. It closes on Sept. 30 and will be converted into a national traveling exhibit with plans to visit all 30 MLB team cities.
Straight Talk with Jason Whitlock (6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 30)
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters will host an evening with ESPN Sportswriter Jason Whitlock. Whitlock will share his insight on a myriad of sports topics in a hard-hitting, pull no punches conversation. The event is free to the public but requires an RSVP. Seating is limited. To RSVP, www.bbbskc.org/whitlock.
Buck O’Neil 103rd Birthday Celebration (Nov. 8-9)
Prior to his passing in 2006, Buck used his birthday to raise money and awareness for the NLBM. After his death, the NLBM continued the tradition in an effort to keep Buck’s legacy alive.
In celebration of Buck’s 103rd birthday, the NLBM has planned a Marvin Gaye Salute to Buck aptly entitled “What’s Going On?” We’ll remember the life and times of Buck through the iconic music of one of the greatest performers in music history. Proceeds benefit the NLBM.
WHAT’S GOING ON?:
Buck O’Neil 103rd Birthday Celebration Highlights:
2014 Buck O’Neil 2.2 Mile Walk & 5K—9 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 8 (NLBM): Buck’s Kansas City Monarchs jersey number, 22, was the inspiration for the annual 2.2 mile walk. New for 2014, is the addition of a 5K that brings competitive runners, civic, social groups and families together for a spirited and culturally enriching race and stroll through the Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District.
Buck’s Bash: What’s Going On?—8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 8 (Gem Theater): No one loved a good party more than Buck, and it’s in his spirit that the annual Birthday Bash continues. The event features a cocktail party (at the NLBM) followed by a soul-stirring tribute inspired by the music of Marvin Gaye. In addition, the NLBM will present Hy-Vee, Willie Wilson and Al Fitzmorris with the Buck O’Neil Legacy Award in recognition of “outstanding support of the NLBM.”
4th Annual Gospel Salute to Buck—3:30 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 9 (Gem Theater): For years, Buck preached the gospel of the Negro Leagues and the virtues of the NLBM to a legion of fans worldwide. So, it’s only fitting that his 103rd birthday celebration includes a spirited gospel salute featuring performances by area choirs and other artists. The annual event is free to the public.
We love comparisons in baseball.
When you try to compare current players and clubs to their counterparts in Negro Leagues history it’s difficult – but I’m going to try.
There are obvious answers just by counting the number of African-American players on a team. That’s too easy. Those of you who read this blog are more intelligent than that and also know that it wasn’t just color but also style of play, excitement and the passion of fans which set the Negro Leagues apart.
So here we go…
The Buccos encompass everything that defined a great Negro Leagues team. They have speed, power, a daring style of play which is among the most entertaining in all of baseball. A superstar in Andrew McCutchen, a budding star in Starling Marte and a group of young players led by Gregory Polanco.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Back in the day – musicians, singers, actors and writers flocked to Negro Leagues games. In Chavez Ravine you can see a who’s who each home game at Dodgers Stadium. It doesn’t hurt when skipper Don Mattingly pencils in Matt Kemp, Yusiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez each night.
Much like the Pirates, The Tigers have a Negro Leagues look. The vast majority of the post Negro Leagues stories center around position players – except for Satchel Paige of course. Pitching is where Detroit might have the best 1-2-3 in all of baseball. The common denominator – aside from extreme talent and Cy Young Awards between Max Scherzer, David Price and Justin Verlander is the fact that they are all innings eaters. Negro Leagues staffs consisted of pitchers who gobbled up innings and pitched frequently. A multi-talented outfield and professional hitters like Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez completes the resume.
Ok – stop scratching your head and hear me out. First of all- the season started with an African-American manager (Ron Washington). With Washington resigning and Bo Porter in Houston being fired – only Lloyd McClendon in Seattle is left piloting a club. Another subject for another day. Here’s the other element that puts the Rangers in this conversation – at the beginning of the season when teams broke from Spring Training, Texas had the most foreign born players on their roster in Major League Baseball (15 representing nine different countries). Currently in the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City you can view “Beisbol” which chronicles the rich history of Latin American players in the Negro leagues.Texas has players from Cuba, Curacao, Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
The “colorful” on this team doesn’t come from skin color as there’s not much more on the roster other than Coco Crisp. The color comes from uniforms, fans and players personalities. Think about it – aren’t those all traits of Negro Leagues teams? The white spikes, the beards – making you remember those hairy yet wildly talented teams of the 70’s, always doing more with less and while they may not be the largest in regard to numbers – Oakland fans like the group in right field and section 149 exude the same kind of passion found in Negro leagues ballparks.
The 1945 Kansas City Monarchs had one of the most dominant pitching staffs in baseball history. It was a staff with two – 20-game winners and collectively walked only 41 the entire season.
Of course everyone knows that the legendary Satchel Paige was the most high profile of the group but he wasn’t the only Monarchs hurler from that squad to be inducted into Cooperstown.
Hilton Smith pitched for the Monarchs from 1936- 1948.
Amazingly in each of those 12-seasons, he won 20-plus games. What makes this feat even more astounding was the fact that on many occasions, Smith would pitch what is termed today as “long relief” after Paige would pitch the first three innings of a contest.
Even more mind-boggling was a stretch from 1939-1942 in which Smith dominated hitters in the Negro Leagues to the tune of a 93-11 win -loss record. The Texas -native, who was one of a handful of players who were instrumental in convincing Monarchs owner J.L. Wilkinson to sign the great Jackie Robinson, kept hitters off balance with a looping curveball and an above average fastball.
In 1941 – Smith compiled an almost unblemished record of 24-1.
Six consecutive East-West All Star appearances, seven pennants and a world title in 1942 later – Smith, who campaigned loudly in his later years to have Negro Leagues players inducted into the Hall of Fame, was enshrined with baseball immortals in Cooperstown in 2001 further declaring the fact that he never belonged in anyone’s shadow on the diamond.
Dave Barr (@daveabarr)
As long as I can remember, athletes and musicians have always wanted to be each other.
The thrill of performing in front of large crowds whether at concert halls or ball diamonds is addictive.
Some have succeeded and some have not (Shaq!).
While not a professional singer - the legendary Buck O’Neil would belt one out every once in a while. He was quick to say he wasn’t much of a singer but he did a great rendition of the classic “Take Me Out to the Ball Game“.
The common denominator is that whether you played sports or sang – you were and those now are – entertainers.
One of the greatest entertainers of all time was the Godfather of Soul James Brown.
He loved baseball and his link to the Negro Leagues was a very strong one.
In his 2005 memoir entitled “I Feel Good”, Brown talks about how his world famous dance moves were influenced by Negro Leagues greats.
“But in those years, that Jackie Robinson, the first black man who came to Major League Baseball, and he was doing the split on first base. There was another black baseball team called the Indianapolis Clowns and the Kansas City Monarchs before blacks – those were Negro leagues. And eventually, when Robinson got into Major League Baseball, he brought some of those tricks with him…”
So many people in all walks of life were forever impacted by the style, creativity and pure athleticism of those who played in the Negro Leagues. That influence remains still today and is part of the living legacy of those players and teams.
Dave Barr (@daveabarr)
The one thing that I love about sports are the arguments.
No sport has better arguments than baseball because the vast majority of the stars of negro leagues baseball history didn’t play in the majors.
So i thought we would have some fun.
I want everyones input on the questions – some we may agree to disagree on but it is going to be interesting to read the responses!
The first “Who was…” question pits two of the quickest players in baseball history against each other.
Who was quicker? Lou Brock or Cool Papa Bell?
The two were very close. Brock was a pallbearer and offered the eulogy at Bell’s funeral.
They were also close on the diamond – from a statistical standpoint – both consistently leading their respective leagues in stolen bases and made life living hell on opposing pitchers.
It’s fitting that we talk about these two in the same way as one paved the way for the other.
Dave Barr (@daveabarr)