A museum telling an important story in the nation’s sports and cultural histories is featured on a new license plate that will soon be available to Missourians.
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City began in a one-room office in 1990 and today is in a 10,000 square-foot home among the Museums at 18th & Vine in Kansas City. It is the only museum dedicated to the Negro Leagues, which originated in Kansas City in 1920 and offered people of color a chance to play professional baseball at a time when they were barred from playing in the major and minor leagues due to racism.
License plates bearing the Museum’s logo will soon be available. It will cost $15 more than a regular license plate registration, and applicants can opt to donate $10 to the museum. This is the result of legislation carried by Representative Mark Sharp (D-Kansas City).
Sharp said the legacy of the Negro Leagues goes far beyond sports, having just as much to do with United States’ history and culture, and it meant a lot to him personally.
“Without seeing black athletes and black players I’m not sure that I would’ve had the confidence in myself to do some of these things. To see other folks and to know the story of what these gentlemen – and a lot of women – that get lost in the Negro Leagues’ history, what they had to go through really sets the standard for moving forward,” said Sharp. “Without those players and what they’ve done I’m not sure a lot of young athletes would have the confidence to go out there and do what they do.”
“The license plate will, one, create a bigger awareness of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. A lot of folks in Kansas City are aware of it but I’m not sure everyone across the state is aware of it, of this gem of a museum that we have here in our state,” said Sharp. “Also, it will provide another funding mechanism for the museum. For museums like this we also have to have enough ways and means to get funding to them to make sure they can stay up to date with current trends and make sure that the museum is in good condition.”
Sharp carried Senate Bill 189 which included language that he also sponsored in House Bill 100, to create the plate. The proposal received broad, bipartisan support in both chambers.
“We are just absolutely thrilled with this level of recognition and the opportunity to generation additional support,” said Museum President Bob Kendrick. “I gotta tip my cap to all of the legislators who made this possible and what a tremendous nod that is to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.”
SB 189 took effect August 28. When the new plates are available Missourians will be able to get them through local license offices.