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Negro Leagues Baseball Museum pays a kings ransom for piece of Kansas City Monarchs history

NLBM wins full 1945 uniform
Kevin Holmes and Bob Kendrick
Posted at 5:48 PM, Apr 15, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum recently paid a kings ransom for a piece of Kansas City Monarchs history, as the museum's president Bob Kendrick explained.

“Typically, pieces like this — uniforms, bats, gloves, other three-dimensional items — usually, we have no shot," Kendrick said.

The NLBM now has a jersey that belonged to a second-generation Negro League ballplayer.

VOICE FOR EVERYONE | Share your voice with KSHB 41’s Kevin Holmes

“Ziggy Marcell was the son of legendary Negro Leaguer Oliver 'Ghost' Marcell, one of the baddest third basemen ever to play this game," Kendrick said. "And when it was up for auction, the NLBM had to step up to the plate. I don’t know how long it’ll take me to pay for it, but we got it."

It cost a pretty penny, but what this uniform represents is priceless. Kendrick calls this uniform "the bridge."

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A Ziggy Marcell jersey on display as Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendick (foreground) talks to KSHB 41 anchor Kevin Holmes.

“As James Brown would say, 'We’re taking it to the bridge now," because that’s when the transition starts to occur," he said.

The bridge between Jackie Robinson, his time on the 1945 Monarchs, and fellow Monarchs like Marcell, as well as the blessing and curse to the Negro Leagues that soon followed.

Robinson and Marcell’s stories comes to life through this piece of memorabilia.

“There aren’t a lot of these pieces that’s survived time. They are rare," Kendrick said. “Anytime you can get access to them and bring them home, we get to tell those stories. Ziggy’s story gives us a chance to talk about his father’s story — the Ghost. And you know they had these great nicknames. Ziggy Marcell, Oliver 'The Ghost' Marcell. Nicknames were so amazing in the Negro Leagues. Actually, if you didn’t have a nickname, you probably couldn’t play."

Kendrick says the uniform is right where it belongs.

"But if you were a Monarch, you were royalty. And now this piece of royalty is at its castle — the Negro Leagues Baseball Musuem," he said. "And that piece, becoming part of that history, that legacy, it becomes even more significant for us than maybe it would someplace else. So yeah, you secure a few extra dollars to bring it back home."

Marcell and Robinson also played together on a traveling basketball team the Los Angeles Devils — one of basketball’s first ever integrated teams.

The Monarchs Jersey cost the NLBM roughly $67,000. The museum is accepting donations to help offset the cost.