Opened in 1991, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is the world’s only museum showcasing the history of African American baseball and its impact on society in America. Before the racial integration of Major League Baseball in the 1940s, the Negro Leagues were extremely active across America. Teams were comprised of primarily African American and Latino players. Although the first known professional baseball game between two African American teams happened in 1859, the golden age of the Negro Leagues took place from the 1920s to the 1940s.
The museum does an admirable job of documenting the journey of the Negro League players from segregation to eventual integration with Major League Baseball. Stories here document the struggle of colored players while also celebrating the amazing talent and resilience of the League's athletes.
At the museum, visitors go through the timeline of the Negro Leagues through interactive exhibits. Here you can see artifacts such as uniforms and gear of stars throughout the years, and learn about what it was like for players to travel throughout the country. Check out the video below to get an inside look at the museum's exhibits.
The peak of the experience here is the Field of Legends, only available at the end of the tour. Visitors can walk onto a field adorned with nearly life-sized statues of twelve of the Negro Leagues most talented players cast in bronze.
The field includes statues of Ruth Gibson (known as the black "Babe Ruth"), Satchel Paige (who eventually went on to be a rookie in the Major Leagues), and Buck O'Neill (a former Kansas City monarch and board member of the museum.)
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum also offers educational programs and resources to the public. These include an “e-museum,” an online portal for teachers to share information and lesson plans about the Negro Leagues in the classroom, as well as art and literacy programs for Kansas City youth. The museum gallery is open from Tuesday through Sunday. For an informative and important experience on history and race in America, take a trip to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
Cover image by David is licensed under CC BY 2.0