Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine sat back in the visiting clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium earlier this season, his feet propped up on the desk, and spoke glowingly of his first visit to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
The former player, longtime manager and lifelong baseball fan had never before stepped through its doors in the historic 18th and Vine District of Kansas City. Never gazed upon the countless artifacts or read the exhaustive research recalling a bygone era.
It opened the eyes of someone steeped in baseball history.
“Great, it was great. I think everyone should go,” Valentine said at the time. “During the All-Star week, they need to keep it open 24-7.”
Not a bad suggestion.
That may be the only way to fit through the doors the thousands of fans expected during Kansas City’s moment in the spotlight. By the time Major League Baseball plays its annual All-Star game Tuesday night, the museum will likely have experienced a significant windfall, financially and in terms of awareness, possibly ensuring its future for years to come.
Museum officials expect to make upwards of $500,000 over the weekend.
The timing couldn’t be better for the museum, which has struggled back from the brink of closure brought on in part by damaging politics and petty infighting.
The museum was founded in 1990 by a group of former Negro Leagues players, including the late Kansas City Monarchs star Buck O’Neil, who would travel the world telling stories of the game’s great black players. One of his interviews proved to be a catalyst for the museum: He was featured in filmmaker Ken Burns’ PBS documentary, “Baseball.”
Riding the momentum, the museum moved into a new facility in the late 1990s, not far from the old Paseo YMCA, where in 1920 eight independent black team owners met to lay down the bylaws for what would become the Negro Leagues. The museum thrived until O’Neil died in 2006. Greg Baker was appointed president rather than Bob Kendrick, a close confidant of O’Neil whom many presumed would be the natural choice.
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article courtesy of TheGrio.com