2020 marks the 100-year anniversary of the founding of Negro Leagues baseball, and we at 4FRONT were inspired by the #TipYourCap2020 campaign from Major League Baseball (Original Article Here) to tip our caps to the brave founders of that league, and the incredible players that made it so special.
Our own internal conversations revealed a passion among many of our staff to learn more about this era of baseball, and understand from a cultural, business, and sporting perspective how important this league is to the sport of baseball, which is near and dear to our hearts.
Luckily, 4FRONT’s own Dan Migala was on site for the opening of the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City and has inspiring lessons, stories, and reflections that remain exceptionally pertinent today. Dan shares his stories and personal connection to the storied history of NLB below:
By Dan Migala:
In 1997, as a college journalism student, I had the honor of attending the Grand Opening of the Negro League Museum in Kansas City at the corner of 18th & Vine. Born in that moment for me was an appreciation of the rich history of African-American baseball that continues to this day.
I was a starry-eyed student reporter for National Public Radio and was humbled at such a young age to interview the likes of Joe Black, museum founder Don Motley and, of course, Buck O’Neil. Even for a trained journalist like me, hard to put into words what proud looks like but Buck had that look that day. For those familiar with the beaming smile that radiated through Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary, I can confirm it was even better in person that day.
For me as a college student, I remember feeling so respected by the way I was treated by these Negro League legends even though I was easily 20 years younger than any other reporter there. In particular, I said to Joe at the end of my interview that I appreciated him treating me like a “real journalist” and not a college kid. His response is still with me to this day, “The best way to be respected is to give respect.”
Those words resonate even more for me today as myself and our 4FRONT teammates continue to respect and raise awareness with ourselves and our clients for the Black Lives Matter movement.
As my career grew, so did my appreciation for the Negro Leagues and the incredible people behind it. In 2006, I started working on a book with the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum called “Dugout Wisdom: Life Lessons From Baseball.” The book would chronicle life lessons from inducted ball players into the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum. I agreed to do it with two exceptions: I wanted to include a member of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and have Buck O’Neil represent the Negro Leagues as they were both Hall of Famers in a bigger game: life.
I was honored to spend time with Dolly Brumfield-White who won two pennants for the Fort Wayne Daisies. Her baseball life lesson she shared with me was, “We drive our dreams, but you need angels to come into your life to help you along the way.”
Buck was one of those angels to me and so many others fortunate to be in his presence. As so many of the ballplayers in the book shared, their life lesson happened long before being a professional ballplayer. When contemplating following his dad’s footsteps as a field worker, his uncle gave him advice that changed the course of his life, “There is something better, but you can’t get it here. You are going to have to go someplace else.”
That someplace else started in Negro Leagues and continues today in the hearts and minds of 4FRONT as we drive change for something better.
As our 4FRONT team tips our hat today and every day to the members of the Negro Leagues, I’m grateful for the lessons they’ve given me personally and all of us:
“The best way to be respected is to give respect.”
“We drive our dreams, but you need angels to come into your life to help you along the way.”
“There is something better, but you can’t get it here. You are going to have to go someplace else.”