KANSAS CITY – It was a one-hour history lesson delivered by a master lecturer.
A group of Dodgers players, coaches, staff and family toured the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Saturday morning with NLBM President Bob Kendrick serving as guide.
“It was amazing,” Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw said of the tour. “I know he’s probably done that for a long time. But for him to rattle all of that off, it was really engaging. Sometimes on tours you don’t want to hear all that history and stuff. But it was awesome. I was really locked in and I’m glad I got to go.”
For Kershaw, it was his first visit. David Price, on the other hand, estimates he has been to the museum “probably 10 times” starting with a 2005 visit with Team USA. After his 2012 AL Cy Young Award, Price joined the group of “Black Aces” – black pitchers who have won 20 games in a major-league season – honored at the Negro Leagues museum.
He has had a relationship with Kendrick over the years and recognized the stories — about how much $1 could buy in the 1930s (and how Rube Foster would fine his players for not sliding) or the photo of a 17-year-old Hank Aaron (and Aaron, later in life, telling Kendrick the contents of the satchel in the photo — two changes of clothing, $1.50 and a ham sandwich his mother made for him when he left to join the Indianapolis Clowns).
“It’s always fun to go back and see Bob,” Price said. “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.”
The visit was set up in conjunction with the Royals’ annual ‘Salute to the Negro Leagues’ night. This year, it included the arrival of Buck O’Neill’s Hall of Fame plaque at Kauffman Stadium. The Dodgers wore their Brooklyn uniforms from the 1955 team while the Royals wore the Kansas City Monarchs circa 1945.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called the event and the museum tour “a history lesson that we all needed.” Kershaw agreed, saying he was taken by the number of Negro Leagues stars whose names he had never heard.
“I didn’t know much about anything. I’d heard about Satchel Paige. But other than that, I didn’t know any of them,” he said.
“I think the biggest takeaway was the history of Major League Baseball almost starts with the Negro Leagues in some aspects. They were there long before integration. … The other thing I took away is a lot of the history isn’t talked about. I thought that was sad but I also thought this is really cool that this (museum) is here and you get a chance to learn about it.”
Price called visits to the museum a chance to “expand our minds and … learn a little bit about the past of what the Negro League guys went through.”
For Roberts – the first minority manager of the MLB franchise that signed Jackie Robinson – the visit went beyond educational.
“It’s more than humbling,” Roberts said. “For me, with where I’m at, I’m just blown away that I’m a little sliver of history.”
Edwin Rios is entering the third week of his minor-league injury-rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City after returning in late July from a severe hamstring injury.
Rios was 12 for 40 (.300) with four doubles but no home runs in his first 11 games and took a nine-game hitting streak into Saturday.
“Each day he feels better,” Roberts said. “He’s getting some hits. He’s playing every day, playing defensively. I think it just boils down to he just needs to continue to play.”
Rios has seen very little game action over the past two seasons due to shoulder surgery in 2021 and the hamstring injury this season. That could be a factor in the five errors he has made in seven games at third base.
“I haven’t seen the plays. I know that he’s made some errors down there,” Roberts said. “It just goes back to – continue to play, continue to get repetitions.”
Dodgers (LHP Tyler Anderson, 13-1, 2.72 ERA) at Royals (RHP Brady Singer, 5-4, 3.49 ERA), Sunday, 11:10 a.m., SportsNet LA, 570 AM
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism