Promotional nights are, for the most part, a B-team distraction. If you love the game of baseball, you don’t head to the ballpark for a bobblehead (Writer’s Note: If you are under the age of ten, I am going to cut you some slack).
In a great piece by Money Magazine, the publication did a review of the top ten best giveaways for the 2016 season. The stuff on the list ranged from a pet calendar (Padres) to a Star Wars baseball (Red Sox) to an ugly sweater hat (Angles). If ever there was a list that made my basic argument more succinctly, it is this one. As they say in Washington, D.C., I yield back the remainder of my time, Mr Speaker.
There is, however, one promotion coming in the day ahead that I want to highlight. On Sunday, May 15, the Royals will play the Braves. The game will be an annual recognition event for the Negro Leagues. As I have written on this site multiple times, the Negro Leagues didn’t just change baseball history, they changed American history.
As part of the day, players will wear Monarchs uniforms (Colorful uniforms and team names were one of a long list of innovations in the Negro Leagues that have shaped what we think of today as the modern MLB). Furthermore, fans are being encouraged to “Dress to the Nines” wearing their Sunday best just as Negro Leagues fans did in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Finally, as an additional inducement, the first 10,000 attendees through the turnstiles will get a Monarchs fedora.
Candidly, I don’t have what it takes to style this hat. No doubt there are other readers, however, that do. Mr Kendrick, I am thinking of you!
When I was researching the Negro Leagues over the course of the last year, a number of individuals were kind enough to speak with me about the importance of the league and key personalities such as Rube Foster, Satchel “Satch” Paige and, of course, Buck O’Neil. It was a truly incredible set of conversations with top historians, a former U.S. senator and a set of nationally syndicated columnists.
One of the members of that last group was the columnist George Will, author of the brilliant Men at Work looking at the craft of baseball. Here is a long version of one of his quotations from my exchange with him. “The Negro Leagues nagged at America’s conscience by showcasing dazzling talent that was excluded.” Will went on to say, in regards to his work on the National Advisory Board for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM), “I got involved with the Museum because, happily, I was asked.”
For those of you headed to the ballpark, you are happily being asked to support this important tribute. For those of you outside of Kansas City, I hope you will pause and appreciate this tribute. Kansas City is the town where Jackie Robinson began his professional career and where the national museum to the Negro Leagues is located. We are fortunate that the NLBM continues to showcase the importance of the league to the country.
Sports fans need to get their heads on straight. It is not about the bobbleheads. It is about the Fedora –a wonderful encapsulation of one of the so many things that made and make the Negro Leagues an essential part of American history.