The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City has struggled since its strongest proponent, Buck O’Neil, passed away in 2006. Surely part of the museum’s woes are related to the omnipresent financial times, but the museum also misses the tireless O’Neil, whose mission to create a shrine to the young men that couldn’t play Major League Baseball inspired many.
While the museum’s leaders try to find a place for themselves in the current world, the KANSAS CITY STAR’s Royals writer Sam Mellinger reached out to current and former great African-American ballplayers with a simple idea: what if 3-4 men took the place of the irreplaceable O’Neil and spoke on behalf of the museum?
What if those men played in the Negro Leagues and were in the Hall of Fame? Or perhaps simply destined to arrive there? So Mellinger called upon Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Ken Griffey, Jr., and others and asked, “Would you be interested?”
Let there be no surprise how they answered: a thousand times, yes.
In fact, most of the men Mellinger spoke to wondered why the museum hadn’t already called. They can’t be O’Neil themselves, thus their hesitation to step up by themselves. However, they all noted they would pitch in some way if simply asked.
And now that it’s in the Sunday KANSAS CITY STAR, do you suspect a few phone calls might go out Monday morning?