The story of the Negro Leagues is one of America at its best and worst, said Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro League Baseball Hall of Fame in Kansas City. Kendrick will be returning to Lone Tree for the second year in a row to give a special presentation on the story of the Negro Leagues at the Lone Tree Arts Center Sept. 13.
The presentation begins at 7 p.m. and will be accompanied by a free exhibit in the arts center lobby.
Colorado Community Media spoke with Kendrick ahead of his visit to talk about the significance of this exhibit.
What is this presentation about?
What I love about the story of the Negro Leagues, particularly the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, is No. 1, you don’t have to be a baseball fan to appreciate this story. If you are a fan of American history, you’re going to love this story. If you’re a fan of underdogs overcoming adversity to go on to greatness, you’re going to love this story. But if you’re a baseball fan to boot, you’re in hog heaven as we start to talk about what this history represents both on and off the field. What I try to do is bring a little bit of everything that is represented in this wonderful story about the Negro Leagues.
Most of us don’t know a lot about the history of the Negro Leagues, and quite frankly I don’t think there was a time people didn’t want to know about the Negro Leagues, they just didn’t have a way to know about the Negro Leagues because it’s not in the pages of American history books.
What will the audience take away?
What surprises people is the impact these leagues had off the field. For me, it’s a given whenever I’m talking about this history it is from a premise that I’m going to share some information about some of the greatest baseball players to put on a uniform. We almost de-emphasize the players in lieu of the story. It’s a very powerful, compelling story about strong-willed individuals who forged a glorious history in the midst of an inglorious time in American history. It’s really all about how their love for the game of baseball would change our sport, but more importantly change our country.
For the baseball fans, they’re going to love the stories of Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell that I share during my presentation. They’ll be introduced to other names that didn’t go mainstream… There are lesser-known players who are just as impactful as those guys that I’ll introduce that even baseball fans haven’t heard about.
What is the story of the Negro Leagues?
It’s the story of this country. It’s the story of America at her worst but it’s also the story of America at her triumphant best. The story of the Negro Leagues could have only happened in America. These tremendously gifted athletes overcame tremendous social adversity to go on playing they game they love, and in doing so, they changed the country for the better. That is an all-American story, and it’s a story we as Americans have embraced because it’s a story of pride and passion and perservearance. It’s the story of the incredible athletes who simply refuse to accept the notion that they’re unfit to do anything — “So, I’ll show you.”
I tell people all the time, what’s not to love about this story?
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