Baseball historian to present history of Kansas City Monarchs at Belleville library

The Kansas City Monarchs, circa 1934.
The Kansas City Monarchs, circa 1934. Provided

Baseball historian Phil Dixon will be at the Belleville Public Library to present a history of the Kansas City Monarchs and their many barnstorming trips through Belleville.

The program, "Kansas City Monarchs in Our Hometown," will be at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Dixon, a co-founder of the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, will also present information on St. Louis Hall of Famer James "Cool Papa" Bell, who would have turned 115 on May 17.

A native of Kansas City, Dixon has authored numerous books, won the Casey Award for best baseball book in 1992 and has been honored by the Society of American Baseball Researchers for his work. He previously worked in communications for Major League Baseball's Kansas City Royals.

Dixon's lecture tour began in 2014 and has included 160 cities where the Monarchs were known to have played. The Monarchs were the longest continuously operated team in the Negro Leagues, lasting from 1920 to 1965.

The team played exhibition games in throughout the United States.

"The Monarchs traveled to more cities than any other professional baseball team," he said.

Belleville's Stags Field, which once stood on Cleveland Avenue near the corner of South Illinois Street and Illinois 13, was a frequent stop on the Monarchs' barnstorming tours. The Stags were a Class D minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Browns and New York Yankees in the late 1940s and operated as an independent professional team both before and after their affiliated seasons.

"Most people have heard of Jackie Robinson, some have heard of Satchel Paige, many have heard of the Kansas City Monarchs, but few know how connected these men and their teams were to cities and communities all over America," Dixon said.

The Belleville Public Library is located at 121 East Washington Street.