Its history is dying, so here's the plan
The Kansas City Star
Louise Smith just wanted to see. She’d never been to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Her health was failing. She was 98. People around her saw this as her last wish. So they brought her in, this is two weeks ago, gave her a private tour.
Her expressions didn’t change much. You have to understand this was close to the end. But at one point in the tour they pointed out a picture of a strapping young man, one of the best pitchers in Negro Leagues history, a sweeping curveball and dominating fastball that eventually put him in Cooperstown’s Hall of Fame.
They asked Louise if she knew who that was. Her answer came in a whisper.
“That’s my husband,” she said.
Hilton Smith’s widow died a few days later, on Valentine’s Day. Shortly after that came news that Mickey Stubblefield — known by his teammates as Lil’ Satch for his resemblance to the great Satchel Paige — passed away at 87.
That’s the column today, not just about Mickey’s life — and he lived a great one — but about the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s harsh reality. The men whose stories the museum is dedicated to keeping alive are, well, dying. Stubblefield was one of the oldest living former Monarchs, but even his days came after big league integration. When these men die, a piece of history goes with them.
The museum must figure a way to remain relevant in this inevitable coming reality. That’s the other part of the column. The museum is about to try something new, a major change. It’s a bit scary. But they don’t have a choice.