KANSAS CITY -- For the first time ever, the commissioner of Major League Baseball today visited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Commissioner Bud Selig called it a wonderful experience.
The financially struggling museum is making the most of baseball's midsummer classic. The museum says it's already seeing record-breaking attendance. Selig says the negro leagues are "a very, very important period in baseball's history."
The 18th and Vine Jazz District has been one of the busiest spots in town as baseball fans from around the globe flock to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. They're here to see Hall of Famers like Lou Brock share his insight on the art of base-running. The all-time base stealing record holder stood next to a statue of Cool Papa Bell as he explained the museum's importance.
"Isn't that what baseball is about?" Brock said. "Connecting generations from one to another, and the negro leagues itself had a big part in the history of baseball. "This man here particularly, I learned a lot from him as a stolen base artist and he used to tell me, 'What I'm going to teach you is not in the book.' Guess what? It wasn't in the book."
With FOX expected to broadcast a profile piece on the Negro Leagues Museum during the all-star pregame show, museum president Bob Kendrick says increasing awareness is turning into support for the museum's mission.
"Yesterday was near record numbers for us," Kendrick said. "I have to go back and look at the books to see if there was any single date total that was higher than yesterday. It was over a thousand people who made their way to the Negro Leagues Museum yesterday. We believe today and Tuesday will have equal kind of numbers as more All-Star fans from outside the area are filing into town now."
Baseball's commissioner Bud Selig is one of those new visitors to the museum. He received a private tour and afterwards told a group of nearly 200 young players from the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program that they can learn a lot about American history through baseball.
"You may have heard about players like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson; whose first professional baseball home was right here in Kansas City," Selig said. "These players paved the way for the African-American stars of today. Like Matt Kemp, Curtis Granderson, Adam Jones and Prince Fielder."
It's a legacy the commissioner says baseball will continue to support. The Negro Leagues Museum is one of the legacy charities designated by Major League Baseball to receive money from All-Star week to fund a traveling exhibit.