Photos: A Visit to Kansas City’s Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Negro Leagues Museum
Kansas City’s Negro League Baseball Museum (photos – Tom Flynn)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (November 13, 2018) – With the last World Series roar a quickly fading echo, baseball’s long winter offseason stretches ahead.  In late June and early July, when baseball was still in full swing, I visited a series of historical sports sites as part of a cross-country trip. Those stops included an overnight in Kansas City to visit several museums, including the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM).

Until Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers integrated Major League Baseball in 1947, the sport was rigidly segregated at its highest level, dating to the mid-late 19th-century when Jim Crow laws increasingly took hold across the country.

In February 1920 in Kansas City, African-American owner and manager Rube Foster led a coalition of fellow owners to form the Negro National League (NNL). The NNL is often considered the leading member of a handful of subsequent leagues that are collectively referred to as ‘the Negro Leagues’ for the more formal structure, and subsequent success, that defined them.

The NLBM was founded in 1990 by a group of former players, including one-time Kansas City Monarchs’ player/manager, Buck O’Neil

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The museum and its exhibits encompass too many facets of the game to cover at any length, but highlights include the story of Effa Manley, the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and the owner of the highly-successful Newark Eagles.

Others are the stories of teams such as the Baltimore Elite Giants, a franchise that produced HOF’ers Roy Campanella and Leon Day as well as back-to-back National League Rookies of the Year, Joe Black (1952) and Junior Gilliam (1953).

In Western North Carolina, the Negro Southern League had an entry, the Asheville Blues (1945-1951), that played some of its games at McCormick Field and had in-game performance incentives for players such as a “$5 and a free taxi ride from the 970 Taxi for the first pitcher striking out two men in a row. $5 from the Ritz Restaurant for the first pitcher striking out seven men.” 

Numerous players of major league-caliber never got the call to the majors in the decades of segregation, or in the years that followed. The Boston Red Sox, this year’s World Series champion, integrated in 1959, 12 years after Robinson’s debut. The NLBM helps tell their story. 

The museum is located at 1616 East 18th Street, in the same building as the American Jazz Museum. Both are a short walk from the Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy, which opened in 2018 and all are a short drive from the city’s National World War I Museum and Memorial. 

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Fieldhouse Report, 10.16.2018

NYRR 2018 Marathon
The 2018 NYC Marathon will again be preceded by the USATF 5K Championship (photo – NYRR)

NATIONAL

Running – As the 2018 NYC Marathon approaches on Sunday, November 4, the city’s calendar will begin to fill with events leading up to the race. The annual “Dash to the Finish” 5k is staged the day before the marathon and will again serve as the USATF National Championship at the distance. 

Asheville-area running fans can watch the NYC Marathon on WLOS-ABC 13 on November 4 at 9:00 a.m. Check back for the November 3 broadcast start time for the 5K Championship on NBCSN. 

Austin Browns Mars Hill College Football
Asheville’s Austin Brown (11) leads Mars Hill (photo – Mars Hill Athletics)

REGIONAL

College Football – Austin Brown (pictured) is a graduate of Asheville’s Erwin High School and currently directs the NCAA DII Mars Hill Lions from under center in the South Atlantic Conference (SAC). The lefty has the Lions leading the conference in overall passing and against Limestone on September 29 threw for 371 yards and tied a school record with six touchdown passes. 

The Lions (2-5) return to the gridiron on Saturday to face Wingate (4-3) on the road. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3. 

WNC Women's College Soccer

Women’s College Soccer – The WCU Catamounts are 3-4 to date in the 10-team Southern Conference and currently in seventh place in the league. In their final two regular-season games they’ll strive to move up a place in the standings as the league’s top six teams earn a spot in the conference quarterfinals, while the bottom four must compete in an additional play-in game. Last year, the Catamounts advanced to the SoCon final before falling to UNCG. (photo  – Ashley Evans, WCU Athletics) 

UNC Asheville Baseball Fall 2018
UNCA’s Chris Troost batting against Georgia (photo UNCA Athletics)

College Baseball – The UNC Asheville Bulldogs faced the Georgia Bulldogs of the SEC in a special 14-inning fall exhibition in Athens, Georgia on Sunday. Eight of the last ten College World Series champions have come from the SEC (5) or PAC-12 (3). Georgia was the #4 team in the country last year. 

“We told our guys that there were a lot of positive takeaways from today,” said UNCA head coach, Scott Friedholm. “One of the biggest aspects was having our younger guys play in a tough SEC environment and in front of a great crowd for a fall game.”  

College Cross Country – Montreat’s Lydia Wilson continued to prove herself as one of the top cross-country runners in the region as she finished 14th in a field of 413 runners at the Queens Royals Challenge on October 12 in Charlotte. The sophomore set a cross-country PR (17:45) at the 5k distance in the process and also broke the school record. 

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Preps  See last week’s Black Mountain News for an article on the rarest of three-of-a-kinds on the gridiron for the Owen High School Warhorses. (photo Tom Flynn)

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Tourists Finale: Golden is MVP and Fischer Top Female Exec

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Casey Golden was the 2018 South Atlantic League MVP (photo – T. Flynn)

Asheville, NC (September 6, 2018) – The Asheville Tourists started the 2018 season sluggishly but finished it on a high note in the South Atlantic League. After opening the year at 3-13, the Tourists concluded the first half of the season with a 27-42 record. They then went 37-31 in the second half to finish 64-73 overall and closed the year with a 5-4 victory over the Rome Braves on Labor Day.

Among many individual accolades, Asheville’s Casey Golden earned South Atlantic League MVP honors after topping the circuit in home runs (34), RBIs (95), runs scored (92), extra-base hits (60), and total bases (259). Golden played his undergraduate baseball at UNC Wilmington and is a Greensboro, North Carolina native.

Chad Spanberger finished as the 2018 league batting champion with a .315 clip. 

On the hill, Garrett Schilling posted a team-high eight wins. He also led the team in innings pitched (144.1) and strikeouts (135). Furman product Will Gaddis added an area rooting interest to the staff and finished the year with an even 6-6 overall mark. He lowered his ERA from 5.68 at Grand Junction in 2017 to 5.04 at McCormick Field, both notorious hitter’s parks.

“This season was memorable in so many ways. The team competed all year long,” said Doug Maurer, director of broadcast and media relations for the Tourists. “We are grateful to the players and the fans for making 2018 a year for the history books.”

In closing the season, the South Atlantic League announced that Tourists’ exec Samantha Fisher is its 2018 Female Executive of the Year. The Coastal Carolina graduate is in her fourth year with the team. She was recognized for numerous efforts within the organization including managing more than 50 part-time employees, overseeing social media marketing, website content, and in-game promotions. She also organizes the team’s multiple community outreach programs.     
      
“I am honored to receive this award and to represent the Asheville Tourists,” said Fischer. “The Tourists have always afforded me the opportunities to succeed and trusted in my ability as a person to get the job done.”

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The Tourists concluded their 2018 season with a Labor Day victory at McCormick Field over Rome.

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Cards, Shildt Quickly Drop ‘Interim’ Label

 

MLB: AUG 21 Cardinals at Dodgers
Mike Shildt was promoted to Cardinals’ full-time manager this week.  (Photo – Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

ASHEVILLE (August 29, 2018) – After a gradual 14-year ascent through the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization, Mike Shildt’s most recent promotion came in just 45 days.

On Tuesday, the St. Louis Cardinals dropped the “interim” label from Shildt’s job title and made him the full-time manager of the team. The former UNCA Bulldog took over the job one game prior to the All-Star break in July. Since then, the Cardinals’ have bypassed seven teams in the wildcard hunt, won nine consecutive series, and have more victories than any team in baseball in the month of August (20). After last night’s win over Pittsburgh, the Cardinals are 27-12 under their new skipper. 

“This is not something I take lightly,” said Shildt at a Tuesday press conference. “I’m very grateful for my family. I grew up in a clubhouse around baseball. I got my ABCs of baseball at an early age…I have been given a lot of credit for what’s happened in the past six weeks. I appreciate it, but cannot accept it.” Shildt instead credited his players with the surge.

Although a North Carolina native, Shildt grew up around the Baltimore Orioles’ organization. His father proposed to his mother at an Orioles’ game, and his mother later worked as an office assistant with the team’s Double-AA affiliate at the time, the Charlotte Orioles. Shildt’s first job with the Baltimore organization was earning $5 a game chasing down foul balls.  

Fieldhouse Report, 08.27.2018

UNCA XC Cross Country UNCA Bulldogs UNCA Track

REGIONAL 

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (August 27, 2018) – UNC Asheville’s cross-country teams get underway this Friday at the Appalachian State Covered Bridge Open. Last year at the event, the Bulldogs finished seventh out of 11 teams on the men’s side, while UNCA finished ninth of twelve teams among the women. 

The Bulldogs host the Asheville Invitational on September 21. (photo – UNCA Athletics).

Two of the area’s neighboring programs open the cross-country season with a dual meet on Friday when Montreat heads west to face Warren Wilson College at 5:00 p.m.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 18 Western Carolina at North Carolina

The WCU Catamounts open their 2018 football season on Saturday at home against the Newberry College Wolves. Newberry plays in the NCAA’s Division II and went 5-6 last year, including a 31-14 season-opening loss to the Southern Conference’s Citadel.

The Catamounts went 7-5 overall in 2017 and 5-3 in the SoCon, good for fourth place in the league. (photo – Icon Sportswire)

On Saturday, Mars Hill travels north to face the SoCon’s ETSU in Johnson City. The Bucs went 2-6 in conference last year and 4-7 overall. MHU finished 3-6 overall.

At the Division III level, the Brevard College Tornados have a tough draw as they travel to face Davidson of the FCS at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday. Brevard is led by Duke graduate, Bill Khayat.

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As reported last week, former UNCA Bulldog Mike Shildt has the St. Louis Cardinals surging.

That trend continued through the week. The Redbirds moved into second place in the NL Central, trailing only the Chicago Cubs. They now have a half-game lead over Milwaukee as the top wildcard team, and a game lead over the remaining chase pack for the two wildcard spots.

The team is 26-12 under Shildt, good for a .684 winning percentage. 


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UNCA’s Shildt Has Cardinals Surging

MLB: AUG 19 Brewers at Cardinals
Cardinals’ outfielder Tyler O’Neill leaps to make a catch against Milwaukee (photo – Jimmy Simmons/Icon Sportswire)

ASHEVILLE, NC (August 21, 2018) – Mike Shildt was named the interim manager of the St. Louis Cardinals on July 14. The former UNCA Bulldog is making the most of the opportunity. 

The skipper inherited a team that was an under-performing 47-46 at the time, leading to the dismissal of manager Mike Matheny. They are now 69-57, with a 22-11 mark (.667) while led by Shildt. They have gone 8-2 in their last ten games and are now tied for the final wild-card spot in the National League, and 3.5 games behind the division- leading Cubs for first-place in the NL Central.

In a sign of their revived fortunes, and of Washington conceding 2018 as a lost campaign, the Cardinals picked up left-handed slugger Matt Adams from the Nats on Tuesday.

Adams previously spent 2012-2017 with the Redbirds, and can play both the outfield and first base. He will likely see time platooning in the outfield against right-handers, as well as pinch-hitting. The move also proves a Redbirds’ counter to the Cubs’ acquisition of Daniel Murphy from the Nationals on the same day.

Shildt is the first MLB manager hired since 2007 without former professional playing experience. 

Former UNCA Bulldog Leads Cardinals

MLB: SEP 26 Cubs at Cardinals
Former UNCA Bulldog Mike Shildt (left) now leads St. Louis. (photo – Jimmy Simmons/Icon Sportswire)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (July 19, 2018) – Mike Shildt, a former middle infielder for the UNC Asheville Bulldogs from 1987-1990, was named the St. Louis Cardinals interim manager last week.

He took quick advantage of the opportunity, winning his first game as the Cardinals’ skipper on July 15 before the team headed into the All-Star break. The manager will go for his second win tonight as the Cardinals head to Wrigley Field to face the rival Cubs at 6:05 p.m. Central.

Shildt coached for the Bulldogs in 1992-1993 and has been in the Cardinals’ organization since 2004. He is the first manager at the major league level without professional baseball playing experience since Dave Trembley led the Baltimore Orioles from 2007-2010.

Photos: A Visit to Evansville’s Bosse Field

 

 

A League of their Own
Tom Hanks and Geena Davis starring in the 1992 film, “A League of Their Own” (photo – copyright Sony Home Entertainment)

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (June 24, 2018) – Two of the three oldest baseball parks still in use professionally today are well-known – Boston’s Fenway Park (1912) and Chicago’s Wrigley Field (1914). Less famous but far more evocative of its distant past is Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana, the third oldest active park in the nation. Bosse is home to the Evansville Otters of the 12-team independent Frontier League.

Bosse Field

Bosse opened on June 17, 1915, as the new home of the Evansville River Rats of the Central League, a class “B” minor league circuit based primarily in Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio. Within a decade, it also served a short stint as an NFL venue when it hosted the Evansville Crimson Giants, who played there for the 1921 and 1922 seasons before folding.

Evansville Crimson Giants
The Evansville Crimson Giants c. 1922 (photo – public domain)

Years later, Bosse had a prominent role in the 1992 film “A League of Their Own” as the home of the Racine Belles of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The interior of the park still has signage dating to the film, and adorning its exterior is a painting of actress Geena Davis, who starred in the movie and notably quipped afterward, “I’d rather play the baseball player than the girlfriend of the baseball player.”

The Otters have called Bosse home since they began play in 1995. They most recently won the Frontier League title in 2016. Josh Allen, a member of that team and the league’s MVP the same year, recently signed a contract with the New York Mets organization and was assigned to their AA-affiliate in Binghamton. The Frontier League, as with all independent baseball leagues, is unaffiliated with MLB but regularly sells the contracts of players to major league organizations. Allen originally made the Otters when he attended an open tryout for the team. (photos – Tom Flynn)

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Photos: Greenville’s Fenway South

GWINN DAVIS / GREENVILLE DRIVE

GREENVILLE, S.C. (June 12, 2018) – The Greenville Drive have a Green Monster in left field at their home park that’s modeled after its more famous namesake at Fenway Park. The wall at Fluor Field is 7′ shorter than its 37′ counterpart in Boston but is similar by design, as the Drive are the Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

The park opened on April 6, 2006, to serve as the home to the Drive, who played the 2005 season at Greenville’s Municipal Stadium after relocating to the city from Columbia, South Carolina. Fluor’s outfield dimensions mimic the asymmetrical confines of Fenway, and included in its structure are bricks salvaged from local mills, adding to the similarity of the two parks despite the 94-year difference in opening dates.

Upon arrival in the city, the franchise was dubbed the Greenville Bombers but changed to the Drive coinciding with the move to their new park in 2006. 

Greenville plays in the Southern Division of the  South Atlantic League (SAL) along with the Asheville Tourists. As of June 12, the Drive were 21-41 and are 4-3 against the Tourists in head-to-head competition. They host the Rome Braves (38-25) tonight at 7:05 p.m. (photos – Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

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Asheville Sweeps Lexington on Saturday

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (June 9, 2018) – The broom jutting out from the Asheville press box on Saturday night summarized the day’s results as the Tourists swept the Lexington Legends in a South Atlantic League (SAL) doubleheader. 

In the first game, lefty Lucas Gilbreath earned the win as the Tourists downed the Legends, 7-1. Gilbreath is now 4-3 on the year. Second baseman Bret Boswell went 3-for-4 with a double, home run, and RBI while batting lead off for Asheville. 

In the nightcap, the Tourists earned a 5-3 victory as Braxton Lorenzini picked up his second win in relief this season. The right hander out of California’s West Hills College was perfect, allowing no hits and fanning three in two innings of work.

Chad Spanberger, last week’s SAL player of the week, had two RBIs and hit a solo home run to lead off the sixth inning. It was Spanberger’s 15th long ball of the season, best on Asheville this season. He is second overall in the league.

Robert Tyler earned the save, his third of the season, and hit 98 on the radar gun late in the evening against Lexington (32-29).

The two teams close out the condensed five-game series on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. at McCormick Field. With Saturday’s doubleheader sweep, the Tourists have taken three straight from Lexington, and three of the first four games in the series. (photos – Tom Flynn)

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