Kansas City got to borrow one of New York’s finest exports for three years when Harlem-native Jim Robinson played three All-Star seasons for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues from 1956 through 1958.
The Bronx Museum of the Arts and the 161 Street BID held a press conference on Monday, March 21 to announce that the Negro League Baseball Museum of Kansas City will be showing its “Times, Teams and Talents” exhibit in the Bronx.
The exhibit opens on Thursday, March 31, which coincides with the season opener at Yankee Stadium on the same day. It will run through Wednesday, April 6.
On Saturday, April 2 Robinson and former New York Yankee Roy White will be meeting fans and signing autographs at Stan’s Sportsworld on River Avenue to promote the exhibit.
Robinson’s goal is to educate younger generations that might not be familiar with the history of the Negro Leagues and segregation in baseball.
“I’m hoping young people and school groups will come out and see what these courageous men did to play the game they loved,” Robinson, 81, said at the press conference. The exhibit will consist of Negro League timeline, two videos and several artifacts from the era of segregated baseball.
Dr. Cary Goodman, president of the 161 Street BID, helped orchestrate a Hispanic baseball festival near Yankee Stadium in 2009. He said bringing the Negro League exhibit to the Bronx has been in the works for a while.
“The genesis of this thing was a conversation here at the museum about a year and a half ago, with Director Holly Block,” said Goodman, whose ultimate goal is to have a permanent baseball history exhibit somewhere in the Yankee Stadium area. “This is really a baby step, although it is substantial.”
Robinson also played for the Philadelphia Stars, the Indianapolis Clowns and in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He also played in the original Yankee Stadium. Perhaps his fondest memories of his time in pro baseball, however, came from Kansas City.
“I really used to look forward to playing home games because they had so many great jazz clubs in Kansas City,” Robinson said. “Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, everyone played there.”
The Negro League Baseball Museum shares a building with the American Jazz Museum. Robinson said that the jazz section was the highlight of his most recent trip to Kansas City.
Robinson attended Commerce High School in Manhattan and then North Carolina A&T State University. He served in the Korean War, and holds a masters degree from New York University. He spent most of his professional life working for the New York City Housing Authority as chief of tenant programs.
Robinson still lives in upper Manhattan, follows the Yankees and spends much of his time on Mosholu Golf Course.