Kansas City Monarchs
The Kansas City Monarchs were the longest-running franchise in the history of baseball's Negro Leagues. Operating in Kansas City, Missouri, they were members of the Negro National League from its founding in 1920 until its demise in 1930, and were members of the Negro American League throughout its existence from 1937 until 1962. Founded and owned by and owned by J.L. Wilkinson, the Monarchs became the first professional baseball team to use a portable lighting system to play games at night in 1930, five years before any major league team did.
The Monarchs were formed in 1920, primarily from Wilkinson's own multi-racial All-Nations team and from players signed from the all-Negro Twenty-Fifth Infantry Wreckers team. Their name came from an earlier semi-pro team in Kansas City that played in the decade before. That team reportedly took its name from its sponsor, the Monarch Printing Company, and was derived from the Monarch butterfly. The Monarchs' logo shown on this page was created retroactively, long after the team's demise. As most Negro leagues teams did not contemporaneously employ a real logo, the ones we see now were mostly created as marketing tools in the 1980s or 1990s.
The Monarchs won eleven league championships before integration (1923-25, 1929, 1931 in the NNL; 1937-40, 1942, 1946 in the NAL), and triumphed over Hilldale in the first Negro League World Series in 1924 by a 5-4-1 count. The Monarchs lost to Hilldale in the next year's Series, 5-1. While members of the NAL, the Monarchs swept the Homestead Grays in the 1942 Negro World Series, but lost the 1946 Series to the Newark Eagles by a 4-3 count.
Following the breaking of the color bar and the raiding of many Negro Leagues teams by the white majors, J.L. Wilkinson sold his interest in the club to partner Tom Baird after the 1948 season and retired. When the Kansas City A's began play in 1955, the Monarchs found themselves paying increasingly exorbitant rent and fees for use of Municipal Stadium, and Baird sold a number of players to major league organizations and released manager Buck O'Neil, who then signed as a scout for the Chicago Cubs. Baird became a scout for the Kansas City Athletics and then sold the Monarchs franchise to entrepreneur and owner of the Detroit club, Ted Rasberry, who kept the team's name but based it out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. After having sent more players to the major leagues than any other Negro League franchise, the Monarchs barnstormed after the end of the NAL, finally disbanding after the 1965 season.
Known managers for the Monarchs were:
- Sam Crawford (1920-23)
- Jose Mendez (1923-28)
- Bullet Rogan (1928-36)
- Lefty Cooper (1937-40)
- Newt Allen (1941)
- Frank Duncan (1942-47)
- Buck O'Neil (1948-55)
- Jelly Taylor (1956)
- Dizzy Dismukes (1942, 1957-58)
- Willie Washington (1959)
- Sherwood Brewer (1960-1962)
Hall of Famers primarily associated with the Monarchs are Bullet Rogan, J.L. Wilkinson, Jose Mendez, Satchel Paige, Hilton Smith, and Willard Brown. Other Hall of Famers who spent a season or more with the Monarchs are Cristobal Torriente, Andy Cooper, Turkey Stearnes, Cool Papa Bell, Bill Foster, Willie Wells, Ernie Banks, and Jackie Robinson.
- Janet Bruce-Campbell: The Kansas City Monarchs, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 1985.
- Dick Clark and Larry Lester, eds.: The Negro Leagues Book, The Society for American Baseball Research, Cleveland, OH, 1994.
- Phil S. Dixon: The Monarchs 1920-1938, Featuring Wilber "Bullet" Rogan, Mariah Press, Sioux Falls, SD, 2002.
- Leslie Heaphy, ed.: Satchel Paige and Company: Essays on the Kansas City Monarchs, their Greatest Star and the Negro Leagues, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2007.
- John B. Holway: The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues, Hastings House, 2001.
- Larry Lester: Baseball's First Colored World Series: The 1924 Meeting of the Hilldale Giants and the Kansas City Monarchs, McFarland Publishing, Jefferson, NC, 2006.
- Robert Peterson: Only the Ball was White, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1970.
- William A. Young: J.L. Wilkinson and the Kansas City Monarchs: Trailblazers in Black Baseball, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2017. ISBN 978-1-4766-6299-2