Museums at 18th & Vine

After the aborted game at Kauffman Stadium, we headed downtown to the Negro League Museum. The museum is in the Museums at 18th & Vine complex. The museum occupies a large space on the right. Across the lobby is the American Jazz Museum.

This connecting lobby includes displays of the 18th and Vine area and a film that discusses its rise and impact on the Civil Rights movement.

We didn’t have a lot of time (or energy) so we went through the Negro League side relatively quickly. After the College World Series, I headed back to St. Louis through Kansas City, where I spent the night. That gave me time to see more of the Negro League Museum, take some pictures and also visit the American Jazz Museum.

Negro League Museum

I describe the Negro League Museum in two parts. In the first, a series of displays provides a detailed account of the league’s history, it’s triumphs and ultimate demise. The exhibits explain the initial impact of black players in the major leagues.

Interestingly, I knew that black players dominated the National League MVP selections in the fifties and transformed the league’s style of play. Their play included bunts, the hit and run, aggressive base running and stolen bases. In comparison, the American League played a slower, “station to station,” and power-hitting type of game. However, I never entirely made the connection between the dominance of the new players and the dominance that the national league started to demonstrate in the 1960s.

The best thing about the museum is the other section. In the center of the museum is a great room that contains a replica of a baseball field. There are near life-size statues of great players at their defensive positions. For example, Satchel Paige is on the mound, Josh Gibson is behind the plate. Accompanying Gibson at home, Nisan umpire and hitter. Buck O’Neil watches from the first area. This is simply the most impactful baseball display that I have ever seen!

American Jazz Museum

For a music lover – which I am – the American Jazz Museum is a blast. The colorful displays wind around the museum taking you past the great players and the styles they developed. The museum also explores the nightlife where Jazz was performed. It opens into The Blue Room one of the more famous and still active Kansas City clubs.

I left the museums, went back to the hotel and rested. The next morning I drove to St. Louis and boarded my flight to London.

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