Satchel Paige was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history and the first Black player to pitch in the Major Leagues. His connection to Kansas City runs deep. The MLB Hall of Famer was born in Kansas City and pitched for the legendary Negro League’s KC Monarchs.
Paige spent the last 32 years of his life in his KC home at 2626 E. 28th St. in the Santa Fe neighborhood. During that time, the Paige family entertained the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, and the Harlem Globetrotters.
After Paige passed away in 1982, the family held onto the 3,700-square-foot, 2.5-story home for a few years before selling it. The home was vacant for 30 years and was the victim of a 2018 fire. After the fire, the City took ownership of the home and through an Request for Proposals process sought an organization to bring the historic house back to life.
In late 2021, a group of developers, in conjunction with the Kansas City Royals, Pitch Perfect LLC, were granted the rights to redevelop the home. Since then, working closely with the Sante Fe community and the Paige family, they’ve drawn up plans for the renovation of the house. The museum would include exhibits on Paige’s life and career, as well as interactive displays, a gift shop, and a community gathering space for events like weddings, meetings, and workshops.
“What is important is our neighborhood coming together and fostering goodwill,” said Paige’s daughter Pam O’Neil. “It is so important to preserve the history of our ancestors, and the Paige family is, once again, surely grateful for those involved with the preservation of our home.”
The Paige home and museum will sit 10 blocks south of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and the hope is visitors will stop by both museums.
“People are just gonna love coming here, visiting here, thinking about Satchel Paige, seeing Satchel Paige memorabilia, which you don’t find all of the memorabilia in one place,” Pitch Perfect team member Marquita Brockman Taylor told The Kansas City Star.
Plans are now drawn up and construction ready, but funding for the project hasn’t been secured.
Taylor estimated that the museum project would cost around $7 million. Restoration of the home alone will cost $2 million to $3 million, while the rest of the funds will be used for a gift shop, neighboring conference center, and an endowment to cover future operating costs.
Now that the plans are finalized, Pitch Perfect LLC says they can begin raising funds in earnest.
“We had to do that [finalize the construction plans] in order to give our donor and philanthropic community some good faith that, you know, this thing can happen and will happen,” Robert Riccardi told the KC Star. Riccardi is a principal in the architectural design firm that drew up the plans and a founding member of the Pitch Perfect team.
The group hopes to raise the needed construction funds through donations and grants. A federal grant of $150k secured by the city was used to repair the home’s fire-damaged roof.
The developers hope to restore the home to its original glory, replicating the original woodwork and design, but with much of the house destroyed in the fire, that’s going to be a difficult task.
While Pitch Perfect would love to start construction as soon as possible, trucks and hard hats aren’t expected onsite until next year with a project competition goal of three years.
“It’s going to be a great story,” Taylor told The Kansas City Star. “We’re going to be so happy to tell it. We’re looking for those who would support our efforts right now. Absolutely. Right now.”
If you’d like to donate or learn more about the project, visit SatchelsHouse.org.