Entering Wednesday afternoon's game against the visiting Baltimore Orioles, the Kansas City Royals are one win away from going to their first World Series since 1985.
About seven miles away from Kauffman Stadium, where the Royals play, is the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM), a seven-employee institution whose mission is "preserving the rich history of African-American baseball." The proximity of the museum to Wednesday's game gives teams and players a chance to publicly support the museum, suggests Christopher L. Gasper in the Boston Globe.
Not long ago Gasper toured the NLBM, whose exhibits pay homage to the African-American players barred from Major League Baseball during its segregated, pre-Jackie Robinson era. He writes:
It was both fascinating and infuriating to know such great talents had existed in a parallel universe to major league baseball history. It was heartening to see their stories preserved and disheartening to know that more major league teams and players weren't contributing more to a national treasure of the national pastime.
NLBM president Bob Kendrick told Gasper the museum wants to hire more staff and help address the declining participation in baseball among African-Americans.
Kendrick credited the many teams and players who support the NLBM, but made a point of saying he did not yet have support from all 30 teams. Whether the teams, players, or Major League Baseball as a whole will publicly support the NLBM over the next few days is anyone's guess. But doing so would be wholeheartedly consistent with the brands and missions of MLB, the 30 teams, and the MLB Players Association.
For example, MLB's tributes and contributions to Robinson and the Jackie Robinson Foundation have been extremely generous. In 1997, Robinson's uniform number, 42, was retired across all of MLB, a symbolic gesture unmatched in the history of American team sports.
Moreover, there are plenty of players and teams who grasp the importance of the NLBM as an institution. Kendrick cited the Royals, in particular, as a strong partner. He also pointed to Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and New York Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki as star supporters.
This week, with the on-field action (and the media's attention) shifting to games in Kansas City, the sport has a great chance to provide even more public support to an important cause--one with which its history is inextricably intertwined.