Dodgers' visit to NLBM a home run with players

Kershaw, Roberts appreciate opportunity to learn during tour led by president Bob Kendrick

August 14th, 2022

KANSAS CITY -- The Dodgers had the chance to learn about an important part of baseball history at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on Saturday morning in Kansas City.

Pitchers Clayton Kershaw and David Price were among a group of players, along with manager Dave Roberts, who took time to check out the museum, which was founded in 1990.

“I think our team is pretty unique in that a lot of our guys realize the significance of certain things and realize these opportunities,” Kershaw said. “I think it’s hard to get a bunch of guys up in the morning, especially on a two-hour time change, but everyone realized the significance of the museum itself and personally, I was really excited to check it out.”

It was the first time that Yency Almonte got to visit the museum. He took time afterwards to take a pitcher with a Satchel Paige statue and bought some Kansas City Monarchs shorts from the museum store.

“Just the experience, and learning everything about the Negro Leagues,” Almonte said. “What they started and set the way for guys like me to be out there today. I can’t wait to get back to Los Angeles and wear these all the time.”

The museum is an eye-opening experience into what it took for African-Americans to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball. It’s the 75th anniversary since Jackie Robinson did that with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. It’s an even cooler opportunity to take the tour when it is given by museum president Bob Kendrick. Kendrick and Roberts have a long friendship and greeted each other with a hug at the door.

“The thing that pulled at me was that we talk about baseball as a fraternity of players and brothers,” Roberts said. “I think the Negro Leagues were that to a different level of a bond and they had a fight that they were all going through together. You just felt that and it was kind of a brotherhood they had and love for the game.”

Kershaw left with a few takeaways from his first museum visit.

“A lot of the history isn’t talked about the Negro Leagues, which I thought was sad, but then also makes it really cool that this is here to learn about it,” Kershaw said. “I was grateful I got to go and learn a lot of that history because I didn’t know hardly any of it.”

Kendrick walked the team through the museum for nearly 90 minutes, recounting stories of players, teams and much more to give a depiction of what it took for the Negro Leagues players to play the game they love.

“I was looking for a paper or something he was reading off of,” Almonte said. “It shows me how much he cares about it, and him going out there and telling us a story is pretty cool.”

Roberts is the first Black manager in Dodgers franchise history. He said he thought they had a good turnout of players who were curious and wanted to learn more about this important part of history.

“It was emotional at times and there was a lot going on while we were there, but I took some time to kind of put myself in that place, a couple times,” Roberts said. “My message to the guys is always how we got here and the history. To get the history of the Negro Leagues and Major League Baseball, and how it came to be.”

Many teams get time to see the museum when they travel to Kansas City, but the Dodgers are in a unique spot where they also get to play in the annual Salute to the Negro Leagues game the Royals hold every year.

“I’m thrilled for tonight,” Roberts said. “Putting on a Major League uniform is special in its own right, but to play for the Dodgers with the history, it’s something very unique. And for us to be able to do this and play against the Kansas City Monarchs, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Saturday's game at Kauffman Stadium featured both teams wearing throwback uniforms -- the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers and the 1945 Kansas City Monarchs.