KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On the day a new home for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum was unveiled, families of those immortalized inside say more needs to be done around MLB to honor the players.
The Negro Leagues Family Alliance wants to make May 2 Negro Leagues Day across MLB. The first Negro Leagues game was played May 2, 1920.
Norman Thomas “Turkey” Stearnes played for the Kansas City Monarchs. He went into the Hall of Fame with KC in 2000.
“My dad enjoyed playing in Kansas City,” said Stearnes’ daughter, Joyce Stearnes Thompson. “He thought they were a very competitive team. He thought that was a great city to live in.”
Thompson and other family members a part of the recently formed alliance.
“Just like Jackie Robinson Day, so that all the ballparks would dress in the uniforms and share the history and carry on the legacy of the Negro Leaguers, especially now that they’re major leaguers,” Thompson said.
FOX4 spoke with NLBM President Bob Kendrick about what’s holding it up.
“In 2020, that was the date that we had initially proposed as a day of national recognition,” Kendrick said. “It didn’t work for us schedule wise, and we ended up ultimately picking another date that fell better into Major League Baseball’s calendar year. Of course, that was before a national pandemic wiped out all of that.”
The Royals have an annual salute to the Negro Leagues, the next one coming up in September. Tuesday, the team announced the second annual March of the Monarchs for this Saturday.
“Trying to find a way to do a national day without hurting what is already been happening is kind of where we need to try hopefully common ground to do something in a national celebratory way,” Kendrick said.
Thompson says they don’t want just uniforms and patches, but more education and community awareness. They also want Negro Leagues players and families in MLB cities, like Kansas City, to be recognized.
“You honor them for a weekend and wear the uniform and that’s enough?” Thompson said. “People who have been denied their rightful place in history. We owe them.”