Royals

Negro Leagues salute Sunday at The K a chance to remember

Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar wore a Kansas City Monarchs jersey and Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche wore a Homestead Grays jersey when the two teams played on Aug. 24, 2013, at Kauffman Stadium.
Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar wore a Kansas City Monarchs jersey and Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche wore a Homestead Grays jersey when the two teams played on Aug. 24, 2013, at Kauffman Stadium. The Kansas City Star

Bob Kendrick calls Sunday the biggest salute by the Royals toward the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, complete with Monarchs uniforms, a jazz brunch, autograph session, a concert and baseball sermon delivered by The Rev. Emmanuel Cleaver II.

The activity before the 1:10 p.m. game at Kauffman Stadium against the Yankees celebrates the Negro Leagues heritage, and part of the revenue from the jazz brunch will support the museum.

But there’s another reason to honor the by-gone era of baseball.

“We’re losing members of our family,” said Kendrick, the museum’s president. “The number of those who played in the League is dwindling, and we need to cherish the opportunities we have to be with those who can tell the stories.”

The throwback uniforms to be worn by the Royals on Sunday are from 1953, when Ernie Banks played for the Monarchs. He signed with the Cubs that fall and made his major-league debut, beginning a Hall of Fame career.

Banks had agreed to participate in activities on behalf of the Negro Leagues museum during this, its 25th anniversary, but he died in January.

The player who replaced Banks on the Monarchs roster, Davey Whitney, went on to win 566 games as a college basketball coach, mostly at Alcorn State. He died last Sunday.

Minnie Minoso, who played in Cuba and the Negro Leagues before becoming an eight-time All-Star, mostly with the White Sox, died in March.

“This reinforces how fragile this piece of history is, and we’re charged with taking care of it,” Kendrick said. “Every time we can get together, it becomes a bigger celebration.”

Former Negro Leaguers Art “Superman” Pennington, Henry “Pistol” Mason, Ernie “Schoolboy” Johnson and George Altman, who went on to a long career in the majors, will sign autographs along with former major-leaguers Diego Segui and Joe Azcue at the Royals Hall of Fame.

The last Negro Leagues All-Star game was held in 1962, and in 1966 one team, the Indianapolis Clowns, was still playing exhibition games.

Here are Sunday’s events for “Dressed to the Nines Day,” where fans are encouraged to wear their Sunday bests in the tradition of the Negro Leagues, when a baseball game followed church:

▪ Sunday Jazz Brunch (10 a.m.-noon, Hall of Fame Pavilion tent), includes a breakfast buffet and jazz by Kenny Glover and BMW. The brunch is $25, with $5 going to the museum. The brunch ticket is not included in the Royals game ticket.

▪ Baseball sermon (11-11:30 a.m., Hall of Fame Pavilion tent), The Rev. Emmanuel Cleaver II will deliver a salute to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum sermon.

▪ Autograph session (12:15-12:45 p.m., Royals Hall of Fame)

▪ Concert: No Strings Attached, An Evening with Miri Ben-Ari (7 p.m., Gem Theater), Grammy award winning violinist performs with proceeds benefiting the museum.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BlairKerkhoff.

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