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  • Writer's pictureNathan Dunn

A Monarchy Of Baseball Royalty

This post was written by, and originally posted to, Nathan Dunn's website, KC Sports Magazine

Some say the Kansas City Monarchs were the New York Yankees of the Negro Leagues, others say the Yankees were the Monarchs of MLB.

One thing is for sure: the two-time Negro World Series champion and 10-time pennant-winning Monarchs were a model Negro League franchise.

“The Kansas City Monarchs became one of the greatest baseball franchises, not just in Black baseball history, but in baseball history.” Bob Kendrick, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president

In almost four decades of existence, the Monarchs only had one losing season, which came in 1944. Stacked with talent, the Monarchs sent more players to MLB than any other Negro League franchise.

J.L. Wilkinson was the team’s owner and the only white owner of the original eight Negro League franchises. He founded the Monarchs in 1920 after running the Kansas City All Nations, a barnstorming baseball team with players from all different backgrounds.

PHOTO COURTESY/ NEGRO LEAGUES BASEBALL MUSEUM Satchel Paige, one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.
PHOTO COURTESY/ NEGRO LEAGUES BASEBALL MUSEUM Satchel Paige, one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.

“They helped form an early version of the Kansas City Monarchs,” Kendrick said. “Wilkinson was the mastermind behind it. He was a really savvy businessman who knew how to promote the game.

The Monarchs, who had open seating, regularly outdrew the Kansas City Blues, who had segregated seating. The two teams also played a number of exhibitions against each other, with the Monarchs winning most of the games.

Players like Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige, Bullet Logan, Buck O’Neill and Jose Mendez made the Monarchs a tremendous attraction everywhere they went. They became America’s team, playing in front of large crowds everywhere they went.

“So many people from big cities to small towns got to see the Monarchs play,” Kendrick said. “They fell in love with that brand of baseball that they were renowned for.”

To this day, no Kansas City baseball franchise has come anywhere close to the amount of success that the Monarchs had.

“It will be hard to duplicate the success the Monarchs had over those four decades in the Negro Leagues and the immense talent that came through the organization,” Kendrick said.


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