Spring 2018

Spring is coming. That is the thought that sustains us through the cold days of Winter. Some say it is a perfect season with signs of new life surrounding us while we enjoy cool nights and warm afternoons. It is a time for positive thoughts and looking to the future. It is also a perfect time to travel and to enjoy our beautiful Missouri.

To aid you in planning your spring travel, I have searched out some web sites for Missouri travel.

For many of us, spring means baseball. The crack of the bat, great fielding, the interplay between pitcher and catcher have brought pleasure to lots of Missourians. Missouri’s baseball history is a source of pride for all our sports-minded citizens.

There was a time when major league baseball was a segregated activity, and it was then that the Negro Leagues flourished. Missouri hosted many of these players, and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is a modern-day marvel well worth a visit IRL or on the web. Take a peak at nlbm.com.

The Kansas City Monarchs, which played in the Negro Leagues, has a connection to my home town of Glasgow. The name, Monarchs, was suggested by John Wesley Donaldson, a Glasgow native who played on the team. His first baseball team was sponsored by the then-Mayor Hannaca of Glasgow. He later played for many teams, often against white players from the majors. With more than 5,000 recorded strikeouts, he deserves the title of “World’s Greatest Colored Pitcher” as given him by another great pitcher, Satchel Paige. Peter Gorton of Minnesota headed up a drive to get John Donaldson the recognition he deserves. More information on Donaldson is available at JohnDonaldson.bravehost.com. Donaldson was admitted to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame (MoSportsHallOfFame.com) through Mr. Gorton’s efforts.

John Donaldson was not only a great athlete, he was a man of character and integrity. During those years of segregated baseball, he was offered the chance to play in the majors if he would change his name, pretend to be Cuban, and not associate with “colored people” including his family. John refused, saying that “I love my family and my race. I go to church and I pay my own way. I will not pretend to be something that I am not.” John never played in the majors, but he did eventually work as the first African-American major league scout.

Missouri’s contributions in music are numerous. Scott Joplin, who lived in Sedalia and St. Louis, is considered the “King of Ragtime,” a type of music featuring a varied rhythm developed from African American work songs, gospel tunes and dance. He was creator of “Maple Leaf Rag” and more than 40 other pieces but he is probably best known for “The Entertainer” which was featured in the film, “The Sting”. Read more about him at shsmo.org/historicmissourians/name/j/joplin/.

Another Missouri-born African-American musician was John W. “Blind” Boone. His Columbia home still stands and can be visited online at BlindBooneHome.com. Boone overcame blindness, poverty and discrimination to become an aspiring composer and concert pianist. His house overlooks Flat Branch Creek in Columbia.

Missouri is blessed with a diversity of cultures and heritage. Properly understood, our differences make us greater. If we cross paths at a museum or anywhere else in Missouri, be sure to say hello. Until then, be safe, and be good to each other.

J.Y. Miller lives in Glasgow and is a regular contributor to Show-Me Missouri. His e-mail address is jymiller@ShowMeMissouri.net.