Hey baseball fans!
I have an interview for you today! This interview is with the President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri: Bob Kendrick! Kendrick has been involved with the Museum since 1993 and was officially named President in April 2011. Before we get to the interview, let me tell you a little bit about the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (which, by the way, I visited a few years ago, and which I thought was awesome).
The NLBM was founded in 1990 by several former Negro League ballplayers, including Buck O'Neil, who is said to be the face of the Museum. It has been in the same location since 1997, a 10,000 square foot building that is five times the size of its previous location. The Museum shares the building with the American Jazz Museum. On April 11, 2013 in the Museum, the movie "42" was especially shown a day before its nationwide release, with Harrison Ford, one of the stars of the film, in attendance. The movie is about Baseball Hall of Famer, Jackie Robinson, who played with the Negro Leagues' Kansas City Monarchs before he broke the color barrier in the MLB in 1947. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is privately funded and is dedicated to keeping the history of the Negro Leagues alive.
Now, without any further delay, here is the interview with the President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Bob Kendrick.
Matt: What sports did you play/watch as a kid?
Bob: I’ve always been a big sports fan. I played sandlot baseball and high school basketball, but watched virtually every sport that came on television.
Matt: Why did you become interested in the Negro Leagues?
Bob: I began volunteering with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in 1993. That’s when I met Negro Leagues legend John “Buck” O’Neil (see pic below) for the first time. After volunteering for the Museum and meeting Buck, the Negro Leagues became a passion of mine.
Matt: What exhibits does the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum show?
Bob: The Museum traces the rise and subsequent fall of the Negro Leagues through an exhibit that features multi-media displays, interactive kiosks, artifacts, vintage baseball uniforms, photos and text panels. There are also a set of free-standing lockers in tribute to the 35 players and officials from the Negro Leagues who are enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. The centerpiece of the Museum is the Field of Legends which is a miniature baseball diamond that features 10 life-size statues of Negro League greats who are cast in position as if they were playing a game. The statues represent the first group of Negro League players to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Matt: Major League Baseball has some famous moments, like the Catch, the Shot Heard ‘Round the World, and the Called Shot. Are there any plays in the Negro Leagues’ history that are as famous as those?
Bob: Josh Gibson hitting a ball completely out of Yankee Stadium; Satchel Paige intentionally walking the bases loaded to face the legendary Josh Gibson in the 1942 Negro Leagues World Series and striking him out on three pitches after telling Gibson what he was going to throw him; Smokey Joe Williams striking out 27 in a game against the Kansas City Monarchs.
Matt: In your opinion, who is the greatest player to ever play in the history of the Negro Leagues?
Bob: Tough question because there were so many great players in the Negro Leagues who never got the opportunity to play in the Major Leagues. When you look at great players like Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Ernie Banks and Roy Campanella, we get an understanding of the talent that was in the Negro Leagues as they were all young stars in the Negro Leagues. For me, it comes down to three players: Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson (see pic below) and Martin Dihigo. Oscar Charleston is considered by many to be the best all-around baseball player of any color. Josh Gibson was arguably the greatest hitter the sport has seen and was an outstanding catcher. Martin Dihigo was the most versatile baseball player ever. Dihigo played all nine positions and played them well. If I had to select one player it would be Josh Gibson.
Matt: The Negro League teams had some pretty cool names. Which one is your favorite?
Bob: I need to start at home with the great Kansas City Monarchs (see logo below), Baltimore Elite (pronounced E-light) Giants, Cuban X Giants, Homestead Grays, and Indianapolis Clowns are a few of my favorites.
Matt: How can you and the rest of the Negro Leagues Museum increase the popularity of the Negro Leagues?
Bob: We’re making every effort to partner with Major League Baseball (MLB), MLB teams and players to help promote the history of the Negro Leagues to baseball fans. We have also been conducting interviews and going around the country to speak/lecture about the history of the Negro Leagues. Recently, we’ve begun emphasizing social media to try and make more fans aware of this great history.
Well, that's the interview. Shout out to Bob Kendrick for taking the time to answer my questions. Thanks for reading this interview. I hope you enjoyed it and check back in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."