The last time a baseball team called the Kansas City Monarchs took the field, it was 1965, the final season of the preeminent franchise of the Negro National League. In 2021, in partnership with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, the Kansas City (Kansas) Monarchs will take the field again, this time in the form of an independent American Association team.
The team yesterday unveiled pinstripe home, grey away, and maroon throwback uniforms—contemporary takes on those worn by their predecessors. The team has worked closely with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in the process of rebranding in the image of the classic team, and the museum will benefit from sales of merchandise.
“It was not easy to turn over the Monarchs name … of course not, that’s our baby,” said the museum’s president Bob Kendrick at an unveiling event when the team rebranded. “For any museum, and particularly history museums and cultural institutions like ours, it is all about, how do you make history relevant? And that’s exactly what we’re doing. When those young players put on Monarch pinstripes, the legacy of Satchel Paige, Buck O’Neil, Hilton Smith, they play on, and that spirit lives on.”
“It’s in good hands, and was done with heart and good intentions,” the museum’s digital media strategist Kiona Sinks tweeted when the rebrand was announced. “All of this is bigger than baseball. Generations now will be educated on the rich history of our city and community.”
The original Kansas City Monarchs, charter members of the Negro National League and the first baseball team in any league to use portable lighting, included such elite players as Cool Papa Bell, Satchel Paige, Buck O’Neil, and Jackie Robinson. The team was founded in 1920 and disbanded in 1965 after the integration of Major League Baseball caused the demise of the Negro Leagues.
The franchise that has adopted the Monarchs’ moniker played nearly three decades as the Kansas City T-Bones before rebranding this offseason. They’ll make their debut next month when the American Association season begins May 11.