Royals decked out for salute to Negro Leagues

Dressed to the Nines, throwback uniforms part of special day at The K

May 15th, 2016

KANSAS CITY -- Fans poured into Kauffman Stadium prior to Sunday's 4-2 walk-off win in 13 innings against the Braves, many dressed in suits, dresses and other fancy attire typical of a crowd from decades earlier.

Past the Royals Hall of Fame, in a tent outside the stadium, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum hosted its second annual Dressed to the Nines Sunday Jazz Brunch and Baseball Sermon. According to museum president Bob Kendrick, the event raised around $50,000 last year.

"It's very exciting," Kendrick said. "It's a way to engage the community."

The event began with a jazz performance from Kenny Glover and the BMW Band. Glover sported an all-white look, mirroring the spiffy attire of the around 100 fans listening.

As the set finished, Kendrick took the stage, thanking everyone for their contributions.

"It's a glorious day," Kendrick said to the crowd. "It's extra added motivation to make sure Buck's museum is healthy and whole."

Kendrick shared stories about Buck O'Neil, who played for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro American League, eventually becoming the first African American coach in Major League Baseball. As Kendrick spoke about the period, he explained the importance of fashion then and how crowds used to dress.

As Kendrick wrapped up, Rev. Robert Lee Hill took the microphone and delivered a "Baseball Sermon," tying in themes of religion and sports.

Kendrick said the idea to have the sermon originated with a story from O'Neil. He said decades earlier, churches would move services to allow congregants to attend games. And after thinking on it for a while, Kendrick said he saw the opportunity to unify the two entities.

"We debuted it last year to rave reviews," Kendrick said. "And Rev. Bob Hill did a marvelous job of delivering the message from the 'Book of Satchel [Paige]' and the Old Testament."

Hill closed his sermon by asking the crowd to say a familiar message that exemplified what the players at the time wanted to do more than anything else: Play ball.

As the players took the field, Kendrick presented Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain, manager Ned Yost and general manager Dayton Moore with honors from the last season. For the game, the grounds crew sported throwback apparel, wearing suspenders along with button-down shirts. The players joined them in the classic look, sporting jerseys of the Monarchs and Atlanta Black Crackers.

"I think it gives them a little appreciation for the Negro Leagues and awareness of what the guys before them went through," said Dave Goodwin, a volunteer with the museum. "It's seems to be a real unifying event."

Play Ball Weekend

To finish out the first Play Ball weekend, fans 14-and-under had the opportunity to run the bases after the Royals' win over the Braves. After doing so, the kids received Play Ball branded plastic bats.

That event concluded a weekend that involved a clinic hosted by the Royals on Friday and a Saturday media conference where young fans were able to ask questions to three members of the Royals' organization. Also on Saturday, some of the kids were able to join the players on the field in pregame festivities, receiving autographs before first pitch.