January brought plenty of discussion whirling around the Hall of Fame. Not just Cooperstown, but the Royals Hall of Fame. The legitimacy of Bo Jackson’s candidacy was fun to write and read about. Mike Sweeney seems like a lock. Forecasting what current Royals will belong is an interesting exercise. All of this is great stuff, but none of it carry’s the impact and relevance of a glaring omission. The true legacy of the Kansas City Monarchs.
This is not a post blasting the Royals for not honoring the Negro Leagues or the Monarchs. When it comes to the topic of honoring the Negro Leagues, the Royals have been leaders for MLB. The Monarchs are a part, a very small part, of the Royals Hall of Fame. Why not be even better? Why not be the best?
Baseball relishes it’s past and brands timelessness far more than any other American sport. One of baseball’s greatest selling features is it’s ability to take it’s fans back in time. Baseball covets it’s old records, and tributes it’s old heroes with throw back jerseys, old timer games, and retired numbers. The Royals Hall of Fame is real nice. Why not be even better? Why not be the best?
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Did you know the Mets have a statue of Jackie Robinson outside of Citi Field? Citi Field itself is an homage to Ebbets Filed, where Jackie broke the color barrier with the Dodgers. Yes, the Dodgers who left Brooklyn, and still exist in the same league as their replacement team in New York, the Mets. I say good for the Mets. I also say this makes the Royals retirement of Satchel Paige’s number a no brainer.
25 is the number Satchel Paige is most identified with as a Kansas City Monarch. Paige is in the real Hall of Fame as a Monarch, along with Willard Brown, Hilton Smith, and J.L Wilkinson. All of those men should also be in the Royals Hall of Fame . Why not include these men and make it a Kansas City Baseball Hall of Fame? I know all about and love the Negro League Baseball Museum, already located in Kansas City, MO. The fact that these men are honored there doesn’t mean they can’t also be honored in Kansas City’s baseball capital, Kauffman Stadium.
You can go to the Royals Hall of Fame and see what a great legacy the Royals have as a major league franchise. The Royals added a big, fat jewel to their crown with their World Series appearance last year. The Royals legacy, still, greatly pales in comparison to that of the Kansas City Monarchs. The Monarchs won the Negro League World Series in 1924 and 1942, while gathering up 13 league titles. They were the Yankees of the Negro Leagues.
Future pioneers and Hall of Famers Buck O’Neil, Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks, and Elston Howard began their pro careers with the Monarchs! The Royals should honor this championship legacy by adding a flag for each Negro League World Series, and one for all the league titles. The greatest baseball team in KC history is not the Royals, it’s the Kansas City Monarchs. Fly those flags.
The two greatest players in Negro League history are Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige. Many give the nod to Satchel because his end was far less tragic, and he eventually did compete in the big leagues. Satchel dominated in KC from 1940-1947. Take some time to look at these links if you have doubts about his prowess. His number should be retired and honored right next to George Brett’s, Frank White’s, and Dick Howser’s. The most important baseball player in Kansas City baseball history is not George Brett, it is Satchel Paige.
The Royals organization is in a perfect, confident place to make these moves. The Royals have always had much to be proud of, and now, it’s not all about their duels with the Yankees in the 1970’s, and the World Series championship of 1985. The Royals went to the World Series last year. The Royals matter. The Royals are relevant again. This means there is no gimmick or shtick in honoring Satchel Paige, his team mates, and those incredible Monarchs teams. It makes it sincere. It makes it all the more powerful.
When the Royals fly the AL Champion flag next year, it will be wonderful. I will probably shed a tear or ten of gratitude and happiness. Why not do the same at the All Star break for Satchel Paige, his teammates, and the Monarchs? Why not replace that manufactured, no real legacy, chef boyardee looking guy? You know, that guy who hangs the W sign after wins? Why not make him a Monarch player? Why can’t a Monarch, a bird mascot in this case, join Sluggerrr all year? Why not inspire conversations about Kansas City’s rich baseball heritage around the ball park and all around baseball?
“Dad, why do the Royals have that Monarch mascot? What’s with those old flags? Who was number 25?”
The Royals have done a fine job honoring the Negro League Legacy, but should enjoy, and employ, the Monarchs legacy so much more. They have been just fine, but why not do better? Why not do the best?
I need to give credit to this post’s inspiration to a great podcast I listened to at Sully Baseball.
I want to thank Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro League Baseball Museum, for his help on this post.
If you love baseball and have not been to the Negro League Baseball Museum, you are missing out. If you have not been in years, you are missing out. If you love sharing baseball and don’t make this a must see when your loved one’s visit KC, you are all missing out.
Happy MLK day my seam-head loving friends. Please pass this post along. Please, with kindness and respect, email and write the Royals about this easy and excellent decision. Let’s ask them to do even better, and RETIRE 25.