Royals Celebrate the Negro Leagues on Sunday
It’s becoming more important than ever to remember Negro Leagues baseball. Not only did we lose the face, voice and heart of the Negros Leagues this offseason with the passing of John “Buck” O’Neil, but we also lost three of his friends and fellow former Negro League players who all played a big role in one of Kauffman Stadium’s biggest events: the annual Salute to the Negro Leagues day.
Each year, with the support of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum located in Kansas City, Mo., (http://www.nlbm.com/) the club’s Salute to the Negro Leagues days draws in several former Negro League baseball players to Kauffman Stadium to remember the good ‘ol days of Negro Leagues baseball, meet and greet fans of the historical teams and educate young baseball fans on the history of the game. Along with Buck, Joe Watson, Bill Van Buren and Herman “Doc” Horn never missed a Salute to the Negro Leagues day at The K. Now, along with Buck, they will be missed by all.
That’s why the Royals are taking their Salute to the Negro Leagues to a new level this year when the organization honors all the Negro League players of the past with special tributes and, it probably goes without saying, an extra special “salute” to the beloved Buck O’Neil.
This year, the fun starts with an autograph session/tailgate party at Gate A, beginning at 10:45 a.m. Negro League veterans George Altman, Bill Bell, Earnest Johnson, Bob Motley, Art “Superman” Pennington, Jesse Rogers, Diego Segui, DeMorris Smith – son of Hall of Famer Hilton Smith – and Alvin Spearman will be on hand to meet fans from 11 a.m. to noon before getting whisked down to the field for the pre-game festivities.
But before taking their seats to soak in all the history, the first 20,000 fans entering the stadium will receive a special “Salute to Buck O’Neil” Monarchs Cap – a navy blue ball cap featuring the No. 22 – Buck’s number – stitched in the side. While the fans sport the cap in the stands, the Royals and their opponent – the Chicago White Sox – will sport uniforms from 1945 representing their historic hometown Negro Leagues teams – the Chicago American-Giants and the Kansas City Monarchs. We got a sneak peek at the Monarchs uniforms yesterday, which feature Buck’s No. 22 on the side of the hat and a No. 42 – for the great Jackie Robinson – on the sleeve. In conjunction with the league-wide celebration of the 60th anniversary of Jackie breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier, the 1945 style of both uniforms and the No. 42 on the Monarchs’ sleeves are all in honor of the season Jackie played in Kansas City for the Monarchs.
But wait…the tributes don’t stop there.
Buddy Bell and his coaching staff received special permission from MLB to all wear the No. 22 for the game – another shout out to Buck’s Legacy. And, to top off the day, another Negro League and MLB great Minnie Minoso, who logged 17 seasons at the Major League level and played third base for the Negro League’s New York Cubans from 1946-48, will toss out the ceremonial first pitch.
Now, we know honoring Buck O’Neil is nothing new around Kansas City this year…however, we hope you will join us in not only remembering Buck, but also honoring and celebrating one of Buck’s biggest passions: Negro Leagues Baseball. Come on out to the ballpark Sunday and take a piece of Buck’s history home with you!
UNIFORMS WORN ON SALUTE TO THE NEGRO LEAGUES DAY AT KAUFFMAN STADIUM:
1998: 1949 Monarchs vs. Detroit Cubs
1999: 1924 Monarchs vs. Cleveland Buckeyes (1946)
2000: 1945 Monarchs vs. Homestead Grays (Pittsburgh)
2001: 1942 Monarchs vs. Cleveland Buckeyes (1945)
2003: 1924 Monarchs vs. St. Louis Stars
2004: 1945 Monarchs vs. New York Cubans
2005: 1948 Monarchs vs. St. Paul Gophers (1909)
2006: 1949 Monarchs vs. Milwaukee Bears (1923)
2007: 1945 Monarchs vs. Chicago American-Giants (1945)