#Hot Corner

Good news for K.C.'s Negro Leagues Museum

Justin K. Aller

This might be the best news you read all week. From the Times:

Five years ago, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, a privately funded nonprofit organization, was on the verge of a collapse. Its finances were in disarray, and many of its longtime donors and board members were dissatisfied. Some corporate sponsors said they felt alienated, and the stream of visitors had slowed to a trickle. Even supporters wondered whether the museum would survive, and the recession did not help.

Many museum officials and supporters said they felt the museum had lost its way after the 2006 death of Buck O’Neil, a first baseman and manager in the Negro leagues, mostly with the Kansas City Monarchs. O’Neil had become the face of the museum as its most ardent promoter. Kendrick, a close friend of O’Neil’s and the museum’s marketing director for 12 years, left in 2010, a year after being passed over for president.

But Kendrick has returned, and attendance has increased, to almost 60,000 visitors last year. Relationships with community leaders have been repaired. And the museum, the only major one of its kind in the United States, had a $300,000 profit in 2012, its most successful year since 2007.

According to the piece, this comes just three years after the museum lost $300,000 in 2009. At that point, I wasn't at all optimistic about the museum's future, with the museum's new director blowing through money and alienating sponsors and friends. But since the change at the top, the museum's financial situation has obviously improved, and just last week -- somewhat bizarrely, in this era of cutbacks -- the State of Missouri contributed $250,000 to the cause.

Basically, all the news is good. Ultimately, I would like to see some private collectors step up and, at the very least, loan significant artifacts to the museum for display. The replica jerseys are pretty, but I've seen how people respond to the genuine articles, and there's just no comparison.

Still, it now seems that the Negro Leagues Museum will be around for quite awhile yet. I've visited four or five times already, and I'm glad to know I can look forward to another.

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