On a sunny spring afternoon, baseball enthusiasts and Northwest students enjoyed ‘20s swinging jazz as history hit one out of the park.
A grand opening of the traveling Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Exhibit “Times, Teams, and Talent” convened in the Administration Building April 9 and will be on display through May 5.
The exhibit features an extensive historical overview of the Negro Leagues and the tremendous social hardships of that era.
A part of the Ploghoft Diversity Lecture Series, the exhibit provides culturally diverse information showing how the leagues shaped the game of baseball and America itself.
Professor and Department of Education Chair Tim Wall said the exhibit speaks to equity and inclusion.
“Now, it’s hard for us to think about separating professional sports and lack of opportunity from those of different backgrounds,” Wall said. “But during that time, that was the world.”
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Vice President of Curatorial Services Raymond Doswell spoke at the grand opening, sharing stories of great players and how they influenced the game.
“The history is inseparable from the game, and most don’t recognize that,” Doswell said.
The exhibit provides information on some of baseball’s greats like Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Roy Campanella and others whose passion for the game outweighed pressures of Jim Crow, racism and segregation.
Traveling all over the country, the exhibit has been in Major League stadiums for fans to observe and learn history from the game they may not know.
The exhibit made its way to Northwest following a lecture from Negro League Museum Director Bob Kendrick in September 2018. He emphasized the museum as a piece of not only baseball history but of American history in the pursuit of integration, equity and equality.
The School of Health Science and Wellness and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion sponsored the opening event and temporary housing of the exhibit on campus.
Wall said the exhibit provides a way to reflect on how to make a difference.
“How will you change the world?” Wall said. “What will your commitment be, and how will you do to help make a fair, just, more equitable society for those you serve?”
Chair of the Ploghoft committee David Kiene said the committee was grateful to house the exhibit.
“This exhibit will show our students the dedication of those individuals who demonstrated the commitment and perseverance to not let circumstances derail their dreams,” Kiene said.
Doswell mentioned the museum has a number of other traveling exhibits, including a Kansas City Royals sponsored exhibit featuring players from negro teams who made the MLB and later became all-stars.
He also talked about the full Negro Leagues Museum that welcomes approximately 70,000 visitors in Kansas City’s historic 18th and Vine Jazz District each year.
Director of the School of Health Science and Wellness Terry Long said the sponsors were proud to be involved with the museum and to hold an important part of history on campus.
“We are pleased to be a sponsor of the event, working with Ploghoft committee for a long time to make this happen,” Long said. “I can’t say I could be any happier than I already am to have this here and share it with you all.”
Doswell said the spirit of Negro League players lives on today.
“We are still discovering stories and statistics of players who made such a big impact on the game and nation,” Doswell said. “I think having it here encourages grit and determination in students who are so interested in the history of what makes the game great.”