Before Saturday’s middle game in Kansas City, in which the Dodgers wore 1955 Brooklyn uniforms and the Royals wore 1945 KC Monarchs uniforms, both honoring Jackie Robinson, several Dodgers took a trip to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.
Museum president Bob Kendrick led a tour of the museum. This was perfect since Kendrick is one of baseball’s greatest story tellers, and if you’ve ever heard him speak — either via his Black Diamonds podcast; or as an in-game guest, as he was during the SportsNet LA broadcast in the bottom of the third inning on Saturday night — Kendrick’s enthusiasm for the sport is off the charts.
Many Dodgers took away different things from the trip.
Manager Dave Roberts, who was born in Japan and whose mother is Japanese, was particularly struck with a tour of Negro League players from 1927 in Japan. Roberts told Fabian Ardaya at The Athletic, “It’s more than humbling. You’re talking about the Negro Leagues in Japan, the Negro Leagues in Latin America, and that’s what this game is today. So for me, where I’m at, I’m just blown away that I’m a little sliver of history.”
David Price had high praise for Kendrick, telling Bill Plunkett at the Orange County Register, “It’s always fun to go back and see Bob ... He tells it the exact same way but different every single time. You always see something new or hear something new that you didn’t hear the previous times and it’s always an enjoyable experience.”
Clayton Kershaw, to Steve Henson of the Los Angeles Times: “A lot of the history of the Negro Leagues isn’t talked about, which I think is sad, but then it also makes it really cool that [the museum] is here. ... I was grateful I got to learn a lot of that history because I didn’t know hardly any of it.”
SportsNet LA reporter Kirsten Watson’s great great grandfather Frank Miller played for the Cuban Giants in the Negro Leagues, and found him chronicled at the museum. “It’s chilling, it’s remarkable, and it’s incredibly special,” Watson said of the “full circle moment” during the telecast, which was evident by her reaction that was shared on Twitter.
A special day with the #Dodgers at the @NLBMuseumKC! I even found the photo of my great-great grandfather who played for the Cuban Giants! pic.twitter.com/1i7jbZeS20— Kirsten Watson (@kirsten_watson) August 13, 2022
This was the Dodgers’ first trip to Kansas City since 2014, and just the third-ever road series against the Royals, but with the expected schedule changes coming next year, every MLB team will play the other 29 teams each season. So now the Dodgers, and other National League teams, will get to see Kansas City at least every other year, and these trips to the Negro Leagues Museum can happen more often.
James Wagner at the New York Times has a wonderful feature on players’ attachment to their gloves, including Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner, whose current glove has been in use for over four years. Turner said this was the first season his glove has looked “old,” and told Wagner this, which I’m certain won’t be twisted into some sort of insight into Turner’s free agent destination preference:
“I think it’s the West Coast since it’s a little drier,” Turner told Wagner. “Because on the East Coast,” he continued, “that humidity keeps the moisture in the glove. So I’ve had to take care of the glove more this year, and it’s starting to get little holes in there. I’m trying to find Band-Aids for it. I’m trying to keep it alive as long as I can.”
Wagner’s excellent article reminded me of Jorge Castillo’s feature in the Los Angeles Times on Clayton Kershaw in February 2021. Kershaw officially retired his glove after winning the World Series, and, now encased in his home, looked as worn as an old-timey glove from a century earlier.