Kansas City, Here I Come

Jesse MotiffSenior Analyst IMarch 25, 2009

COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 30:  Former Negro League player John 'Buck' O'Neil speaks at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 30, 2006 in Cooperstown, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

There are two passions in my life that rise above pretty much everything else: baseball and history.

The two seem to get so intertwined, and so much of what has happened in baseball is a significant part of American history.

There was also a time when the game and this country had a very different feeling than what it has now. Prior to 1947, some of the best ballplayers in the history of the game never had a chance to showcase their skills in Major League Baseball.

We all know the story of Jackie Robinson and how he revolutionized baseball and the country by becoming the first black man to play in the majors in the Modern Era. The story that is less known is that of all the men that came before Robinson, although they do have their place in history at the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City.

I made my first trip to the NLBM last spring and my only regret is that I didn't make the trip sooner.

Ken Burns highlighted the Negro Leagues in his acclaimed documentary series, Baseball. As great of a job as Burns did, nothing can duplicate seeing the story in person. The museum is a great tribute to the men who paved the way for not only current black ballplayers, but all minorities playing in the majors.

The star of Burns' series was former Negro League player and manager, John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil. O'Neil's love and passion for not only baseball, but those he played with as well, came through the television and touched me personally.

For a man to have been through so much in his life, and to have been a part of so much hate, but to still have an unwavering smile and love for everyone he came in contact with was simply amazing to me.

I would like to get to the baseball Hall of Fame before I die but I can't imagine it being any more touching or appealing than the Negro League Baseball Museum. It's a venue that every baseball fan needs to visit before they die.

I know that Kansas City has a lot more to offer me than just the NLBM. I also visited the World War I Museum and the College Basketball Experience on my trip. What else should I make sure I see while I'm there?

I'm calling on you, Kansas City residents, to help me out. What are the best sites to see and the best restaurants to either take in a lunch or dinner? I leave this weekend, so time is a bit short for me. Any help would be greatly appreciated.