Missouri Sports Hall of Fame

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum director inducted into Missouri Sports Hall of Fame

Updated: 2014-01-27T06:39:19Z

At a place where a bronze bust of Buck O’Neil lines the Legends Walkway alongside Stan Musial and the Show-Me State’s other athletic greats, Bob Kendrick took a stroll and beamed.

Kendrick, the director of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, spent Sunday touring the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame hours before his own induction in Springfield. At one point, he spotted a photo of pitcher Satchel Paige, enshrined here, too.

It was a reminder, Kendrick said, that the day was far greater than his induction.

“Certainly I am the guy who is accepting the award and it will bear my name, but it’s a testament to what the museum represents in the annals of baseball history and certainly its contributions to the sport in our state,” Kendrick said, and singled out the man who was long the face of the Negro Leagues museum.

“I think it also in some ways pays tribute to the work that Buck O’Neil in particular did to build that museum,” Kendrick said.

Kendrick was part of the Hall’s 15-member Class of 2014, which included former Chiefs running back Ed Podolak, Cardinals outfielder Willie McGee and Royals catcher Mike Macfarlane.

If Kendrick’s induction seems curious, it shouldn’t be. The Hall, privately funded, has long recognized star athletes as well as those who worked in the trenches to better their teams or enhance athletics in Missouri.

Kendrick has re-established the profile of the Negro Leagues museum since being chosen director in April 2011, rescuing the museum from financial hardship and repairing its relationships in Kansas City.

His work, in many ways, has been like a go-ahead, three-run home run in the eighth inning and his energy contagious.

The museum last year not only played host to the initial showing of the Jackie Robinson movie “42” but also was featured in the New York Times, which noted that the facility had a $300,000 profit in 2012.

“I’m now their voice,” Kendrick said of the museum’s 2,600 inductees. “We have a team of folks who have taken on this challenge of keeping this museum alive; so a moment like this (Sunday), you think about the magnitude of your own life but also the history that you represent.”

Given his induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Kendrick hopes it leads to more Negro Leagues representation here, particularly the Kansas City Monarchs as a franchise.

“We’re talking about one of the greatest franchises not only in black baseball history but baseball history,” Kendrick said.

Others enshrined were retired Missouri Western University basketball coach Tom Smith; retired professional bull rider Luke Snyder of Raymore; and three from the University of Missouri: associate head football coach Andy Hill, team physician Mark Adams and announcer Gary Link.

| Kary Booher, Special to The Star

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