I had the opportunity this week to tour the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., in conjunction with my playing in the annual Buck O'Neil Invitational golf tournament. Last year, I planned to play in the tournament but had jury duty. I made a promise to myself that, no matter what, I would attend this year.
I'm glad I went, because it was one of the most rewarding trips I've ever made.
When I was in college, I wrote my thesis on the Negro leagues. I did a lot of research on players who played in the Negro leagues and on the leagues overall. Andrew "Rube" Foster had the idea for the first organized league for African-Americans, and it was established in the Midwest as the Negro National League in 1920 (the organizing meeting was held in Kansas City). Additional leagues soon began in the East and down South.
Foster was a great role model in the African-American community, and he made many contributions to baseball, such as the use of lights for night baseball. Foster was using lights years before the major leagues first introduced lights in Cincinnati.
I wanted to write my thesis on this topic because I wanted to know the history of the Negro leagues -- how they started and why they ended. That in itself was a rewarding experience for me. It was also one of the few A's I got in college.