Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
Located near the founding site of the Negro Leagues, this museum preserves and shares the history of African Americans in baseball from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement when MLB teams and Southern minor league teams began to hire black players, coaches, and front office personnel. The museum includes a replica of Kansas City's Muhlenbach Stadium with statues of the game's greatest players. Visitors begin their tour with a documentary film narrated by actor James Earl Jones that shares the general history of black baseball and the Negro Leagues. The museum then follows a timeline that places the history of the Negro Leagues within the larger narrative of American history. Exhibits include original equipment, jerseys, photographs, and several interactive displays. The museum concludes with exhibits about the hiring of black coaches and managers, and a gift shop that includes replica jerseys, books, pennants, and posters.
Backstory and Context
Through the inspiration of Horace M. Peterson III (1945-1992), founder of the Black Archives of Mid-America, a group of local historians, business leaders, and former baseball players came together to create the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in the early 1990s. The museum originally operated out of a small, one-room office in the Lincoln Building... The museum expanded to a 2,000 square-foot space in the Lincoln Building in 1994.
During the late 1990s, plans were underway by city officials to create a new home to showcase Kansas City's jazz heritage and to revitalize the Historic District. City officials and the mayor worked to raise over $20 million in bonds to build a new facility to host the new American Jazz Museum and a new, permanent and expanded, home for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. This new 50,000 square-foot building opened in September 1997 and the Baseball Museum opened in November. The NLBM broke ground in early 2006 on a $15 million historical preservation and expansion project to restore the Paseo YMCA and convert the national landmark into the John "Buck" O'Neil Education and Research Center.
Peterson, Robert. Only the Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams. New York: Gramercy Books, 1999.
Vincent, Fay. The Only Game in Town: Baseball Stars of the 1930s and 1940s Talk About the Game They Loved. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006.