Whenever you move to a new city, there are certain things you want to do. I’ve had a Kansas City bucket list that admittedly I’m a little behind on. I’ve tried all the big name BBQ joints. But I still need to take in more of the establishments in Power and Light, hear live Jazz music, and get out to Livestrong Sporting Park (among others).
But yesterday, I checked off a big one. I got a guided tour of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. It was an incredible experience. Bob Kendrick, the President of the museum who has been involved with it for over a decade, was our guide. My colleagues, all of whom had been there before, and I could not have asked for a better experience.
What struck me most about the place was its uniqueness. And since it’s the only Negro Leagues museum in the world that seems like an obvious point to make. But what I’m referring to is the unique way the place tells the story of the Negro Leagues. As you walk through the museum, you’re walking along a timeline that intertwines baseball’s history, with Negro League history, and with our country’s racial history. You aren’t just being taught about Negro Leagues baseball in America. As corny as it sounds, you’re being taught about America.
And then what made my first trip to the museum yesterday so memorable was something that happened before our tour even started. A man in a lime green shirt, who was using his umbrella as a cane and drinking a coffee, approached the table I was sitting at. He asked if I was “in from out of town” in an almost hopeful tone. I was wearing a Chicago Cubs t – shirt which is why he understandably got that impression.
When I told him I wasn’t but that it was my first time at the museum and that I had recently moved to Kansas City, he broke into a full blown sales pitch. Anything I wanted to know about the museum, he’d be happy to tell me. He wasn’t wearing a uniform and didn’t strike me as an employee, which he wasn’t. That was the remarkable thing. He says that nearly every day “because the museum is good to me,” he usually stops by, has a cup of coffee, and talks to anyone who is interested in any of the knowledge he can share about the Negro Leagues.
The museum and the story it tells is that important to him.
And after I went through the tour and checked it off my KC Bucket List, I can see why.