The Kansas African American Museum, to help celebrate baseball’s return to Wichita, has curated an exhibit “Time at Bat: Negro League Baseball in Wichita.” chronicling the Negro baseball player experience in Wichita from the late 1800’s to the 1950’s.
The free-standing exhibit which feature images, biographical essays, rare artifacts, and other fascinating details to offer visitors a realistic picture of the direct impact that Wichita’s Negro Leagues had on Major League Baseball and the city.
The exhibit will be on display at the museum until July 3 and will be on display throughout the summer at several Wichita locations.
The idea for the exhibit was developed after members of the Wichita Public Library staff found a 1925 article about an exhibition games between the Wichita Monrovians, a negro team, and the local Ku Klux Klan chapter. That unique find led to a collaboration with the Wichita Public Library, Humanities Kansas, and Wichita Urban Professionals to explore and educate the community about “Wichita’s Diverse History of Baseball.” The project explores Wichita’s storied history of minority baseball, from the Negro Leagues to the Mexican American teams.
Klans Vs. The Monrovians
Twenty years before Jackie Robinson broke the MLB color barrier, the Wichita Monrovians played an exhibition game against Wichita Klan Number 6 at Island Park on Ackerman Island.
According to reports, the Klan was searching for some favorable publicity in a state that was becoming increasingly anti-Klan.
The Monrovians went on to win the exhibition game, 10-8, and no violence at the ballpark was reported in the local papers. Proceeds from the game were donated to charity.
In addition to the museum’s curated traveling exhibit, the collaboration includes an exhibition baseball game sponsored by Wichita Urban Professionals and a “Candid Conversations” series sponsored by the Wichita Library.
Representatives from Urban Professionals have planned an exhibition baseball game at McAdams Park on Sun, July 11 at 6 p.m. This goodwill exhibition game will feature a matchup pitting two teams of Wichita notables against each other.
The exhibit will travel to the Wichita Advanced Public Library and Riverfront after it is showcased during the exhibition game.
The library has scheduled a Candid Conversations series that explores Wichita’s storied history of minority baseball. The series will feature several virtual programs highlighting Wichita’s diversity through the baseball lens, including a screening and discussion of “The Other Boys of Summer,” a discussion about Mexican American Baseball in Kansas, a program about how the NBC World Series led the way to baseball integration, and an exhibition game organized by the Wichita’s Urban Professionals.
“We want to tell a story about Negro League Baseball in Wichita that expands a singular game or team,” said Paris Cunningham, Curator at The Kansas African American Museum. “There was a greater spirit around the players, ball parks and games that made key moments like the Monrovian game so special, and we hope to capture that essence in this exhibit.”
A complete list of programs and exhibits, as well as historical data about baseball in Wichita, can be found at www.wichitalibrary.org/baseball.
The exhibit will travel to the Wichita Advanced Public Library and Riverfront after its showcased during the goodwill exhibition game.
This collaboration is supported by a grant from Humanities Kansas and by the Wichita Public Library Foundation.