The Pride of the Negro Leagues

The 2011 baseball season is almost history, but for some fans, the history of the sport is just as important as what’s going on now. One of the most important chapters from that history involves the Negro Leagues, which consisted of teams made up entirely of black players who weren’t allowed to play in the major leagues — at least not until Jackie Robinson broke that barrier in 1947. Today, about 200 former Negro Leaguers are still alive — and still telling stories. One of them, Mack “The Knife” Pride, is a Colorado resident who played for the Kansas City Monarchs and the Memphis Red Sox in 1956 and 1957.

Pride, 79, will talk about his playing days today as part of Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience, a traveling exhibition from the American Library Association, now at the Aurora History Museum through September 23. In addition, the museum has supplemented the show with items from two Denver-area collections — the Jay Sanford Collection and the John Kohl & Manuel Ramos Collection.

"We really wanted to have the exhibit because there isn’t that much focus on the Negro Leagues and how much African-American players contributed to the game even before the major leagues were integrated,” says museum director Jennifer Kuehner.

Pride, whose brother is country-music legend Charley Pride, “is very proud of having played and of having been a part of that tradition,” Kuehner says. In 2008, Pride and 29 other Negro Leagues players were ceremonially “drafted” by each of the thirty major-league teams in honor of their history. Pride was chosen by the Colorado Rockies.

You can meet Pride and ask him questions today at 2 p.m. at the Aurora History Museum, 15051 East Alameda Parkway; the event is free. For more information, go to www.auroramuseum.org or call 303-739-6660.
Sun., Sept. 18, 2 p.m., 2011

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes