Bob Kendrick leads off at Cooperstown Symposium
Kendrick’s keynote address, entitled, “How the Negro Leagues Changed the Game and America Too!” was held inside the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Grandstand Theater. With an attentive crowd on hand, Hall of Fame President Josh Rawitch gave a rousing Cooperstown welcome to his friend.
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“And so while America was trying to prevent them from sharing in the so-called joys of her national pastime, it was the American spirit that allowed them to persevere and prevail. So this is not a woe-is-mine kind of story. These athletes never cried about the social adversity. They went out and did something about it.”
Kendrick also talked of what he shares with his guests when they come to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
“What the Negro Leagues teaches us is very simple. In this great country of ours, if you dare to dream, and you believe in yourself, you can be or do anything you want to do,” Kendrick said. “They dared to dream of playing baseball. They had no idea that they were making history. They didn’t care about making history. They just wanted to play ball.
“But you see the pride, the passion, the perseverance, the determination and courage that they demonstrated in the face of adversity. Again, our story is not about the adversity, but rather what they did to overcome the adversity. And folks, that is a story that transcends race, it transcends age, and it transcends gender.”
Kendrick ended his keynote by touching on a trio of players who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in July.
“I can’t wait to get back next month to celebrate all of those who are going into the Hall of Fame,” Kendrick said, “but particularly the likes of Cooperstown’s own Bud Fowler, my dear friend, the great Minnie Miñoso, and, of course, my great friend, my confidant, my mentor, the late great John Jordan ‘Buck’ O’Neil.”
Bill Francis is the senior research and writing associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum