A GREAT view of the field at AT&T Park in Chattanooga during their pre-season open house!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Negro League Hall OF Fame and Museum, Kansas City


There are certain pilgrimages all baseball fans should make. The Hall of Fame in Cooperstown comes to mind. The Negro League Baseball Museum is also on that list.

I should take a moment to say that I truly appreciate shrines like this. A lot of love and respect has been put into this establishment.

I should also take a moment to be honest and say that I was a little disappointed. I have read about some of the money issues going on with the museum. I know there are problems and complications with keeping a place like this going, especially in these economical times, but I saw a few things here that were a little embarrassing.

We went inside. One of the first things you come across at the museum is the movie theater. There is a sign giving the times that the movie shows- which was pretty much every half an hour.

We went into the theater, and the movie was playing without audio. I went to tell one of the staff people. I told the person selling tickets.

We came back a half an hour later hoping to see the movie, with audio. This time, there was no movie showing. People casually walked in expecting to see the film, narrated by James Earl Jones. We all set around the dark theater. After a few minutes we realized the film would not be playing.

Sure, sometimes movie projectors don't work. However, they were obviously informed of the problem. It looked like they had even stopped the video projector, but they did not take the time to close the theater door or put up a small sign to inform patrons of the situation.

SEVERAL light bulbs were out. This was especially sad in their Hall of Fame locker area. Each inductee has a jersey and a plaque describing their career, displayed in a locker. Some of the lockers had no light. You literally could not read about the career of the player!

Some of the items on display were undocumented. For example, there are several sets of wooden ballpark seats throughout the museum. I was curious about where they came from, but I could not find a plaque or note card with information on them. They were just wooden seats. They may have been repros, or they may have been from a significant stadium. I don't know.

I was at the museum with friends who had been there before. They said that it seemed more impressive on previous visits.

There were some other areas of concern. I really hate to admit it, but I could go on.

I thought back to my visit to the Ty Cobb museum a few weeks earlier. The museum was smaller, it was ran out of a room in a hospital, and there was one staff person managing it, the gift shop, and some hospital work. It was nicer.

I went through the Royals Hall of Fame on this trip too. Very nice (see my previous post).

My friend and I both agreed that we could fix their lighting and some other issues in an hour or two. Again, these were small, but very noticeable issues.

The no photography rule here seemed unnecessary too. There are some nice relics behind glass, but there are many reprint photos, and things that a camera flash would likely not affect.

I honestly hate to mention any flaws here, but they were very obvious.

Still, for $8 admission, or $10 to see the Jazz Museum too, the ticket price is a bargain. If you are a fan of baseball, you will still have a great time.

There is a lot to like here. I got the feeling that this museum, with a little tweaking, could be spectacular.

There are some some uniforms. The Hall of Fame Section is very nice (with lighting). Also, I really admired the Geddy Lee Collection. Right when I thought he couldn't get any more awesome! What a great guy.

Oh, there gift shop was great. I have to give them a lot of credit on their gift shop. They had some beautiful reproduction Negro League jerseys. They were pricey, but they were some of the nicest repros I have seen.

They also had a great selection of affordable t-shirts. I personally couldn't leave without a Cleveland Buckeyes shirt. I also picked up Rod Carew's book SIGNED at cover price! If my wife had not stopped me, I would have bought more.

As I finish writing this, I am feeling like I may have been a bit hard on the museum. It was still a great trip, well worth the price of admission. Still, it may have been an off day for the museum, but it was probably the only trip many people will make there.

I love baseball. Obviously, I love going to games and shrines relating to the sport. I tell friends who have not gone to games about the joy and family friendly atmosphere at the minor league parks. I encourage people to visit the museums. I just hope that those people in charge of the parks, the shrines and the museums have the same reverence for the sport and its history.... especially the history of the humble Negro Leagues.


  1. Dear Sir:

    I am curator of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. I was out most of last week and was unaware of the issues your raised, especially since we just had a number of things addressed in the exhibition. Please call me right away so that we can discuss your visit. I fear that most of what you saw is not a true reflection of the state of the museum. We have new staff and I think we need some more training.

    Dr. Raymond Doswell

    1. At least you were able to get in! Lucky you! I agree about every baseball fan should see this museum. The book "We are the Ship" got my children really excited about these players. We drove from Maryland to Seattle for my son's graduation. On the way back, I purposely took that route through Kansas City, MO to see the Negro League Baseball Museum. I was tired, car full of kids, and hot! And although, it was opening hours, they were installing carpet and the museum was closed. We drove there for nothing. We were very disappointed and so were the other people who had driven there that weekend. I have one picture of father and son, hopelessly looking through the window hoping it would open. At least the gift shop should have been open, they weren't installing carpets in there and the door from the museum to the gift shopped could of stayed lock. I am still a little sour, I wrote on facebook about it. They took our address and phone number, but I never was contacted. Oh well, at least you got a reply.