Hello fellow public historians,
My name is Kurly Taylor and I’m a senior here at UMKC studying History and Political Science. I am extremely excited about this course and its opportunities. I am interning at the Negro Leagues Museum in the 18th and Vine District of Kansas City, Missouri. The museum was opened in 1990 to showcase the hidden history of the Negro Leagues and its impact on baseball and American culture. I work with director Dr. Raymond Doswell. With Dr. Doswell I have been digitizing videos of former players who remember their playing days in the league. After the digitizing the videos we will soon make them available online for historians and others so they can have access to these videos. I also am going to work on some research on a new exhibit that Mr. Doswell plans to get going in the future. It has been educational and inspiring to hear these men tell their stories about playing in a league deemed “second” to the Major Leagues but over the course of history its been proven that that’s not accurate.
The Negro Leagues were founded in 1920 by Rube Foster. Foster believed that a league should be established for black Americans to play the game of baseball. Because of the “gentlemen’s agreement” which said that black players were not to be brought through the Major leagues by any owner Foster sought out to create a league for blacks. Foster and other men established the league like the Majors. They created a National and American League and they adopted their own constitution. The Negro Leagues were home to several teams like our own Kansas City Monarchs, Homestead Grays, Pittsburgh Crawford’s, Black New York Yankees, and Indianapolis Clowns just to name a few. These teams were also home to great players who were better or just as good as Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. Players like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Monte Irvin, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. The league spanned from 1920-1955. The league ended because of the integration of baseball which called up the Negro Leagues best and brightest. After Jackie Robinson came up in 1947 several would follow and the Negro Leagues as we know ended.
My job as a intern is to tell the stories of these men and keep their legacy alive. Yes the Negro Leagues isn’t around today but the affects of it still stands in the major leagues through the drag bunt, stealing bases, and other dynamics of the game that we don’t understand as viewers. Also, the league was a catalyst of black pride, black self-sufficiency and black skill. We should never forget this history am I’m proud to help be apart of that task.