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Negro Leagues Tribute, Baseball Prospectus Night At Kauffman Stadium

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Because of distance, time, money, life, or whatever other reason may creep up, I don’t get to near as many Kansas City Royals games as I would would like. Although, I watch almost every game on television, nothing compares to sitting in the stands at the old ball park.

Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

When I heard that Baseball Prospectus was hosting their third annual event at Kaufman Stadium, I thought that would be a great event to attend. I attended the festivities with the Kings of Kaufman’s Michael Engel and KC Kingdom’s own Aaron Reese. I’m so glad I went.

The day started out with a private tour of the Royals Hall of the Fame, led by the Hall’s Director Curt Nelson. Mr. Nelson is enthusiastic and knowledgeable, not only about Kansas City Royals baseball, but about baseball history in Kansas City. He provided a relaxed, informal tour of the Hall, complete with some great stories and information.

After that, our party of approximately 40 people met for a Question and Answer period with a panel that included Joe Hamrahi and Jason Parks from Baseball Prospectus, Jeff Passan from Yahoo.com Sports, and Craig Brown for Royalsreview.com.

Since the game between the Royals and the Washington Nationals was also a tribute to the Negro Leagues, the Director of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Bob Kendrick, was a special guest on the panel.

For a stat geek like myself, getting to sit down and discus the Royals specifically, and baseball in general, with the men on this panel is a fun and exciting opportunity, one in which I have been looking forward to from the moment I actually decided to attend. The bonus was Bob Kendrick.

As much as there was to discuss with the rest of the panel, Kendrick inadvertently dominated the session. If you have never met Mr. Kendrick, or attended a function in which he is present, or heard him speak for any length of time, let me tell you something about him. Bob Kendrick absolutely,  positively loves what he does. And it shows in his enthusiasm, and in his very mannerisms. Mr. Kendrick is not just a curator of a museum, he is its life’s blood. He is the keeper of its history and its stories. He is a historian of not only black baseball, but a historian of a culture and a society. And not only is he a historian, but he is a verbal historian.

Mr Kendrick knows all the stories of the legends of the Negro Leagues, and he loves passing them along. He is undoubtedly a disciple of the late, great Buck O’Neil, and he, over the course of many years of association, absorbed the stories and legends from one of the greatest baseball storytellers of all time.

You can read an anecdote in a book, or on-line, or where ever, but there is nothing like hearing a story from someone like Mr. Kendrick, who revels in the telling, even if it is an anecdote he has repeated a thousand times. That is a rare thing indeed. The great thing about Bob Kendrick is that you could spend a day with the man and never tire of the wealth of information the could impart.

So, while we missed out on a more lengthy Q&A with the Baseball Prospectus guys, along with Passan and Brown, we were treated with some great stuff from Bob Kendrick and it was a treat indeed.

Next, we had a Q&A with the Royals’ Baseball Operations stats department. While this section of the proceedings did provide us with an intriguing insight into the inner workings of the Royals data analysis, they would not comment on any specific player or situation. They answered questions in the most generalized, sanitized manner, with no meaty information, in which we were wanting. I would have gladly traded about half of the time with the Ops guys for more time with the Prospectus guys.

Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

One encouraging thing that came from this was that Jason Parks still thinks the Royals have a very strong minor league system. Maybe not as strong as it was a couple of years ago, but deep with young talent. The biggest problem with this is it looks doubtful to me that the best Royals of the present will ever have much of a chance to merge talents with the best players of the future to produce the winner that Royals fans so richly deserve. It appears to me that a bulk of the next wave won’t be ready to contribute until some of the best players currently on the roster will have moved on or went past their prime.

The game itself was a disappointment, despite the terrific throw back uniforms the players wore. The Nationals, in their Homestead Grays’ replicas, defeated the Royals, in their cream and red Kansas City Monarchs uniforms, 7-2. It was just another crushing defeat in what has become a crushing two weeks for the Royals and their fans.

Still, it is hard to go wrong spending 6 plus hours talking baseball for a guy like me. I had a great time and plan on attending the event again if it is offered. Below, I will list the twitter accounts for some of the people involved in this terrific afternoon and evening. All are worth following if you are a fan of the Royals and baseball .

Bob Kendrick – @nlbmprez

Joe Hamrahi – @JHamrahi

Jason Parks – @ProfessorParks

Craig Brown – @royalsauthority

Jeff Passan – @JeffPassan

Michael Engel – @michaelengel

Aaron Reese – @Deviator77

Joel Wagler –

@

jawsrecliner

KC Kingdom – @KCKingdomFS