Kansas City Star Sports Columnist, Sam Mellinger, recently compiled his list of the “50 Most Influential in Kansas City Sports History.” The list included three people who’ve played instrumental roles with the NLBM: John “Buck” O’Neil, Don Motley and Bob Kendrick. Here’s what Mellinger had to say:
Role: Longtime amateur baseball coach; Negro Leagues Baseball Museum executive director, 1991-2008.
The case: Motley was the first black coach in the American Legion and Ban Johnson leagues, coaching the Milgram Mustangs for 41 years. Motley’s work here and beyond spread baseball to untold thousands.
Role: Negro Leagues Museum president, 2011-present.
The case: We couldn’t help but put Kendrick right behind O’Neil. That’s where he was for much of O’Neil’s later years, and it’s where he’s remained as the driving force behind the museum since O’Neil’s death. Kendrick left the museum briefly after the board passed him over as president but has since led a resurrection of the business.
Role: Monarchs player 1938-49; Negro Leagues Baseball Museum founder; baseball and KC ambassador always.
The case: Buck’s relentlessly joyous spirit spread an important American story to millions who’d never heard it. The museum’s mere existence depended on his personality, and he stole the show in Ken Burns’ definitive documentary, “Baseball.”
Kansas City Chiefs former owner, Lamar Hunt, topped the list and Kansas City Royals owner, Ewing Kauffman, was No. 2 on the list.