As I perused Twitter on Sunday in the midst of a Twitter meltdown in regard to the Chiefs losing to the Texans (their second loss at home in a row…the Super Bowl hopes are not looking good now, unfortunately), I stumbled upon this idea:
It will be interesting to see if the Royals and the marketing team at Kauffman Stadium will agree to this idea, as they currently limit their celebration of the Negro Leagues as a once-a-year event. As we all know from our experiences in organizations (mostly through work), though some ideas sound good and make a lot a sense on paper, it can be a different challenge to actually convince those in charge to carry through with something. Furthermore, with a new owner, I imagine that #MonarchMondays may not be exactly a top priority, especially when it comes to turning around the fortunes of a 103-loss club.
However, while it may be a longshot for #MonarchMondays to be a reality at the K in 2020 (already there is some pushback from Royals fans…you can guess what kind of background they have), here are a few reasons why #MonarchMondays should be a regular affair during the 2020 regular season in Kansas City.
Reason #1: To celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Negro Leagues
On the same thread, Charles Sollars, the designer who has pitched the idea to the Royals, made this remark on Twitter regarding his inspiration for the #MonarchMondays theme:
In many ways, it’s amazing that it’s been only a 100 years, as we all know that African-Americans’ participation in baseball went beyond 1920 (many African-Americans and teams participated in barnstorming before the establishment of the formal Negro Leagues). However, the establishment of the Negro Leagues in 1920 by Rube Foster in Kansas City gave a formal forum for African-American to showcase their skills and talents to a national audience. While Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, if it wasn’t for his time in the Negro Leagues with the Kansas City Monarchs, it’s possible that he would have never gotten the exposure needed to change the game of baseball.
Even beyond Robinson, the Negro Leagues helped showcase some of the greatest baseball players in the history of the game, including Satchel Paige of the Monarchs and Josh Gibson of the Homestead Grays. #MonarchMondays could be an excellent opportunity on a regular basis in 2020 to educate and showcase to Kansas City baseball fans not just well-known players like Robinson, Paige, and Gibson, but also lesser known figures involved who helped the Negro Leagues make a lasting impact on Major League Baseball and the game overall.
Reason #2: It’s an opportunity to showcase the Kansas City’s baseball history and heritage
While #MonarchMondays can definitely celebrate the history of an influential baseball league, this promotion can go beyond just promoting awareness of the league itself. The Negro Leagues as it was formally created back in 1920 is distinctly Kansas City, as the league was not just birthed in Kansas City, but the City itself was the home to the Monarchs, the greatest Negro League club of all time, and also arguably one of the greatest baseball teams of its era (it would have been interesting to see the Monarchs play the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees during the late 30’s and early 40’s).
Thanks to the Negro Leagues and the Monarchs, Kansas City built quite a baseball culture, and has a heritage and history of baseball that rivals a lot of other cities that are considered “baseball havens” (St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Boston, etc.). And yet on a national level, baseball experts and fans do not value Kansas City’s baseball lineage. #MonarchMondays could be an opportunity for the Royals and Kansas City as a whole to demonstrate to not just Royals fans, but opposing fans and the national baseball audience how important the game is to the history of Kansas City, with the Negro Leagues and Monarchs being just a lone example.
It would be exciting to see on Royals broadcasts or even in-park promotions that could find ways to celebrate Kansas City’s baseball heritage. And if there is anything Kansas City people like more, it’s opportunities to celebrate the history of the city in positive and unique ways. Maybe the product on the field won’t bring fans to the park (it’s hard to see the Royals turn around that 103-loss record). But #MonarchMondays could be an opportunity for fans and Kansas City families to not just enjoy a game at the K, but learn a little bit more about baseball and its impact on the history and culture of Kansas City, which may help improve on the mediocre attendance numbers from 2019.
Reason #3: It can help with baseball’s diversity problem (in Kansas City and beyond)
A big problem with baseball today is that it falls flat at times in terms of attracting diversity to the ballpark and the game itself. According to USA Today, only 7.7 percent of players in Major League Baseball today are African-American, which pales in comparison to the NBA, which is almost 75 percent African-American, and NFL, which is 70 percent.
While the game is seeing a huge spike in Latino participation (27.4 percent), it is a shame that African-Americans are not as widely represented. And with baseball in the urban core going through it’s share of struggles (though initiatives like MLB’s Urban Youth Academy, which is present in KC), #MonarchMondays could be a way for the Royals and MLB to reach out and empower baseball fans who might not be as represented at Kauffman Stadium.
I am not saying the Royals or Major League Baseball is trying to cater to an All-White crowd. However, in order for the fanbase to become more diverse, the league has to become more diverse, and athletes of all cultural and ethnic need to see players like them if they want to believe they can play and succeed at the next level. #MonarchMondays not only celebrates the history of Negro League players in Kansas City and beyond, but it would also help inspire young African-American youth that they can be baseball players too, that it’s not just football or basketball where they can flourish.
And with youth more interested in the game, they will be more invested in seeing the game live. Thus, it’s a win-win for the community of Kansas City as well as the Royals and Kauffman Stadium.
And #MonarchMondays don’t have to be centered just on the Negro Leagues and African-American baseball. There could be Mondays where they may focus on Mexican-American baseball and its history in Kansas City, which is surprisingly rich (as I learned from this book). The Royals could showcase the Negro Leagues’ connection with Afro-Caribbean baseball players from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and other countries. #MonarchMondays could be an excellent opportunity for the Royals to showcase that the Royals fan base is a diverse bunch, and the club appreciates the fan base’s diversity to help make Kauffman truly an experience for all.
Yes, Kauffman Stadium is Boulevard beer, tailgates to bad country music (not the biggest fan of the music unfortunately), and dollar hot dogs and peanuts on Friday nights. But there is also “A Day at the Nines” and “Los Reales”.
#MonarchMondays could go a long way to showing the baseball world that Kansas City appreciates its diverse baseball history and fans.
And the Royals will also get to sport some good-looking uniforms on the field in the process.