The Negro leagues first came alive for me when I read Buck O’Neil’s autobiography I Was Right On Time. Learning about and researching Negro leagues history has been a hobby of mine ever since. Remembering the greatness of the Negro leaguers in the face of oppression inspires me to stay clear-headed about how easy I have it. If those guys could organize their own successful leagues and play some of the best baseball ever seen despite horrific, institutionalized disadvantages and difficulties, well, then life can be pretty beautiful. The Negro leagues help me remember that. That reminder is preserved and taught best at Kansas City’s own Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
The museum has seemed rudderless at times since Buck’s charismatic leadership was lost with his death in 2006. There was the surprise appointment of Greg Baker, who had nothing to do with the museum previously, as the next president, and Buck’s right-hand man Bob Kendrick left. After Baker’s sudden departure, Kendrick is back and in charge, and there seems to be a renewed energy and optimism about the museum’s future.
We passed the fifth anniversary of Buck’s death on October 6th, and are coming up on the 100th anniversary of his birth on November 13th. The museum has been taking these anniversaries as an opportunity to celebrate Buck’s life and legacy and to ramp up support for the museum at a time when it is especially needed. Here are some of the ways you can help keep the lessons of the Negro leagues alive:
• Consider making a donation of $100 before November 13 as part of the $100 for 100th campaign and get a personalized plaque to be displayed permanently at the museum.
• Become a member with a donation of $25 or more.
• See the Right On Time exhibit, open now at the museum’s gallery space. The free exhibit features pictures, artwork, poetry and more inspired by the life of Buck.
• On Friday, November 11, area First Watch restaurants will donate 100% of their profits to the NLBM. (Click here to find locations.) Royals alumni will make appearances.
• The second annual Buck O’Neil 2.2 Mile Run/Walk will take place at 8:00 A.M. on Saturday, November 12. If you sign up by October 23, the cost is $25, and all proceeds benefit the museum.
• At 8:00 P.M. on November 12th will be a birthday celebration for Buck at the Gem Theater.
This is my last post for I70 as a regular contributor, though I may still have an occasional post. Many thanks to Bill for asking me to join, and I wish him and the site the best. I will still be around the internets on Twitter and my own KC baseball blog. Thanks for reading. - Aaron