Zack "Buck" Wheat. George Brett. Ernie Banks. Leroy "Satchel" Paige. Hank Bauer. Roger Maris. Wilber "Bullet" Rogan. Charles "Casey" Stengel. Jackie Robinson.
The Monarchs. The Blues. The Athletics. The Royals.
These are some of the memorable players and teams in a century-and-a-half of Kansas City baseball. Now - just in time for July's All-Star Game in Kauffman Stadium - that rich heritage is being celebrated in Amateurs to All-Stars, a new exhibit is currently on display at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
Packed with information, photos, and memorabilia drawn from the Library's Missouri Valley Collection and curated by special collections librarian Jeremy Drouin, Amateurs to All-Stars provides a panoramic look at this city's epic love affair with the "national pastime."
It's a story that begins just after the Civil War with city fathers establishing ball parks and sponsoring teams like the Antelopes and the Hopes. Professional baseball came in 1884 with the creation of the Union Association. The first pro game played in K.C. took place on June 7, 1884; nearly 1,500 fans showed up at Athletic Park (near Southwest Boulevard and Summit) to cheer on the home-town boys.
In the first half of the 20th century Kansas City baseball was dominated by the Blues of the American Association and the Monarchs of the Negro leagues. Kansas City became a true major league town in 1955 when the Athletics of the American League moved here from Philadelphia.
During the 1960's the antics of Athletics owner Charles O. Finley helped keep fans amused even when the team was losing. When Finley moved the club to Oakland in 1967, the city scrambled to find a replacement.
The answer was the Royals, owned by legendary local businessman Ewing Kauffman. The team began playing here in 1969. In 1985 the Royals won their first and, to date, only World Series.
Amateurs to All-Stars is on display on the fifth floor of the Central Library, adjacent to the Missouri Valley Room.
Admission is free.