Tag Archives: Adam Jones

Negro League Baseball Museum Still Thriving as a Beacon of Black History

9 Jul

The Negro League Baseball Museum shines a light on the players who played with Jackie Robinson first.

Negro Leagues Museum Baseball

Major League Baseball commissioner Robert Manfred; Kansas City Mayor Sly James; Judy Pace Flood, widow of Curt Flood; MLB Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark and former player Dave Winfield attend ceremonies in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday, June 21, 2017. Major League Baseball and its players’ union presented a $1 million grant to the Negro League Baseball Museum to help with operating costs, expansion plans and educational opportunities. Photo by Philadelphia Sunday Sun via the Associated Press.

 

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

With Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game coming up on Tuesday, I am reminded of the time prior to Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color line when baseball, not basketball, was the most popular sport among African-Americans.

In the 30s and 40s, stadiums like Chicago’s Comiskey Park and Philadelphia’s Connie Mack Stadium would be filled with African-Americans coming to see Negro League Baseball teams like the Philadelphia Stars play the Negro League’s elite players like Satchell Paige, James “Cool Papa” Bell and Josh Gibson.

“Let me tell you something, fella, Negro League baseball was a happening in the Black world,” the late Stanley Glenn told me when I interviewed the former member of the Philadelphia Stars in 2005. “Women came to the ballpark dressed in their Sunday best, high heel shoes, silk stockings and they had hats on their heads on their hats and long-sleeved gloves … Let me tell you something — we married some of the girls. They would be there dressed to kill. You would think you were at a cotillion.”

While memories of those days have faded along with African-Americans interest and participation in the game, there’s a monument to the Stars at 44th and Parkside in West Philadelphia, as well as a wing dedicated to Negro Leagues at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

But if you really want to see what the Negro Leagues were all about, and you can’t find a copy of the Richard Pryor film “The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings”, a visit to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City is a must.

Since it opened in 1997, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has become a showcase and permanent monument to the greatest players in the history of baseball; players that were kept from the major leagues because of the color of their skin.

“It’s an American history, it really is,” said Bob Kendrick, the museum’s president. “It is a story of America at her worst, but it’s also a story of America at a time of her best because what drives this story is the American spirit. America didn’t want to let these guys play, but the American spirit propelled them to do so. That’s why it’s such an awe-inspiring and such a compelling story that few people have been exposed to until the rise of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.”

Whether you walk inside the museum’s hallway with the uniforms and old photographs of the players or you’re seeing the bronze statues of players like Paige and Gibson playing their positions in a makeshift stadium, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is a living, breathing monument to the greatness of those players.

And it’s a greatness that tends to attract Black major leaguers to the museum, Kendrick said. Many of them have come to the museum to draw strength and inspiration from the statues and artifacts contained there, including former Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who would often visit the museum to draw strength and inspiration before heading to spring training.

“Ryan used to come to the museum before we even knew who Ryan Howard was,” Kendrick said. “Every year he would come to the Negro League museum because he said it was place he need to come before spring training. He drew strength. It was almost like his rites of passage.”

In the aftermath of being jeered with racial epithets by a fan at Boston’s Fenway Park, Baltimore Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones visited museum and talked about its importance to him.

“Some have no idea what the Negro Leagues are about or what they went through. I appreciate people coming out here to learn something they didn’t know about the great game of baseball through the Negro Leagues’ eyes,” Jones told MASN.com (MidAtlantic Sports Network) after donating $20,000 back in May.  “This is just the place to learn what these great men had to go through.”

Recently, the Negro League Baseball Museum, which has had its share of financial ups and downs, received a huge boost from Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association in the form of a $1 million donation.

The contribution will support the museum’s operations, services, its expansion as well as its educational and community programs. The portions of the money will go to complete the Buck O’Neil Research and Education Center on the Paseo YMCA site where Andrew “Rube” Foster formed the Negro Leagues in 1920. 

Kendrick said museum’s partnership with MLB through Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBA Executive Director Tony Clark is yet another way of reaching out to the African-American community in an effort to renew their interest in the sport.  African-American players make up just 7.1 percent of the athletes playing the sport.

Not only was the financial contribution significant, it was the presence of both Clark and Manfred at the museum to make the announcement last month that made it even more special for Kendrick.

“They have embraced the notion of the museum playing a significant role in its effort to bringing African-Americans back to our sport in terms of playing and watching it,” Kendrick said. “This is the first time that we’ve sat down and look at this as a collaboration and the partnership aspect of what this means.

“(Manfred and Clark) being here to me, in some regard, is more important than the financial because it raises the platform, the profile of our museum and how it is seen and valued by those who run our great sport.”

The Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be broadcast from Marlins Park in Miami beginning at 8pm on Fox-29.

 

2014 ALCS: Who Will End Their World Series Drought? Orioles or Royals

10 Oct

By Barry Federovitch

For The Chris Murray Report

Baltimore;s Adam Jones and Alex Gordon for the Royals.

Baltimore;s Adam Jones and Alex Gordon for the Royals.

Somebody’s gonna hurt someone before the night is through. Somebody’s gonna come undone. There’s nothing we can do – The Eagles ‘’Heartache Tonight’’

Whose misery will end this week?

Do you prefer the Kansas City Royals, who haven’t won the World Series in 29 years, since George Brett was their regular third baseman and Bret Saberhagen was their ace? Or are you pulling for the Baltimore Orioles, who haven’t won since they took down the Phillies’ Wheeze Kids in 1983, but haven’t played in the Fall Classic in 31 years?

Underdog vs. Underdog in the 2014 American League Championship Series. But only one can win and given what we just saw in twin sweep upsets in the ALDS, it’s not readily apparent who that will be. The more you look at the best-of-seven series that begins at Camden Yards Friday, the more you can become confused.

But all emotion aside, these are very different teams with diametrically opposed reasons for optimism that they will represent the A.L. in the 2014 World Series.

WHY THE ORIOLES WILL WIN

1. They’re the better team- The most debatable point. They’re missing Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, all key components, but they won the ever-tough A.L. East going away, while the Royals had to scramble to claim a wild-card berth. The O’s won 96 games, tied with the Nationals for second-best record in baseball behind the Angels (compared to 89 for the Royals) and really have done the most to this point.

2. They have the best manager- Royals skipper Ned Yost has done a nice job, but is frequently under criticism for his moves (particularly in the wild-card playoff against Oakland). Buck Showalter? Considered the best bet for the Manager of the Year Award, masterfully manipulating a lineup all season that on paper doesn’t even look like a playoff team. When push comes to shove, who will make the moves that make the difference? This year, no one’s been better than Buck.

3. The Orioles have homefield advantage- Rarely a key point, but possibly significant in a series where the two teams will have strong sentiment on their side. The O’s were a healthy 50-31 at Camden Yards this year and should the series go seven games would have the deciding game at home. The Royals were a strong 47-34 on the road (so this could be a push), but at a mediocre 42-39 at the K could have a tough time sweeping the middle three games in Kansas City.

4. The Orioles have the power edge: The Royals may preach speed, but would not have gotten past the Angels without timely homers by Eric Hosmer and Matt Moustakas in the ALDS. Continuing hot streak or brief aberration? The Royals only hit 95 homers this year, fewer than half of Baltimore’s 210, which is usually fully exploited by Camden Yards.

5. Chris Tillman gives the O’s an edge- Both bullpens are great and intuitively the better bullpen wins most series. But in Game 1 starter Chris Tillman, the O’s may have a pitcher who can stymie the Royals. In his lone start against KC this year, he spun a five-hit shutout. Tillman also beat the Royals in one outing in 2013 and hasn’t lost to them in over two years, possibly a key factor since he should start twice in the series.

WHY THE ROYALS WILL WIN

1. They are the hottest team- Among the four remaining playoff teams, no one is clicking all-around like the Royals right now. They can steal seven bases in a game, hit big extra-inning homers, get dominant starting pitching and/or strong relief. They beat the Angels by winning in many ways, which is the easiest path to a championship.

2. Speed doesn’t slump- A key unpredictable factor in any postseason series is weather. Will the wind blow in during key games and neutralize the power of both clubs? Or will wet conditions slow the track and take away the stolen base? More likely the Royals, who led the A.L. in stolen bases, are less prone to slumps. They have speed up and down their lineup (compared to the O’s, who virtually never utilize the stolen base) and are great at making something out of nothing (they were second in baseball in infield hits with 158). Neither team walks a lot, but if you keep the ball in the park, the Royals have a clear edge.

3. The Royals know they can beat the O’s- It was a small sample size, but the Royals won the season series (4-3). Most significant in this was that the Royals won two of three in Baltimore (where the series begins and may end). KC has already shown that it isn’t intimidated by loud postseason road crowds, but it helps to have a positive history in Baltimore.

4. Big Game James- Neither side is long on postseason experience, but it may help the Royals to have James Shields, a veteran of many big September and October clashes during his time with the Rays. Shields could be matched up twice with Chris Tillman this series and just a split in the first two games in Baltimore will go a long way toward giving the Royals the edge in the series.

5. Greg Holland- Most postseason series come down to who blows a game or two in the later innings. In Greg Holland, the Royals possess what may be the best closer in the game. Holland was 1-3 with a 1.44 ERA and 46 saves this year and hasn’t given up a hit in four postseason innings. Going back to last year, Holland has been as good as any reliever in the Junior Circuit and could be the difference if games are decided in the ninth inning.

Conclusion: One hidden factor is homers allowed, an area KC had a clear edge this season (Royals pitchers allowed 128 homers compared to 151 surrendered by the O’s). Add the league’s best eighth-inning man (Wade Davis, 9-1, 1.00) and it might just be enough for the Royals to take the series in seven games.