By Jason Schock
Kansas City author Author Phil S. Dixon, a pioneer in the study of Negro League baseball history, has added Falls City to his national 90-city tour of cities that once hosted Kansas City Monarchs games.
Dixon will appear in Falls City in conjunction with the Rotary Club meeting at noon Thursday, Feb. 15, at the Falls City Library & Arts Center (the Tuesday, Feb. 10, edition of The Journal had the wrong date listed). The program is open to the public.
He is making the tour in honor of the 90th anniversary of the Monarchs’ 1924 World Championship, Kansas City’s first. Dixon visited 35 cities last year and expects to hit 55 in 2015. The Monarchs actually played an exhibition game in Falls City against a team of locals.
“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 they were to your local community,” Dixon said. “I am returning to 90 cities where they played games to present this team’s unique history, and I do so with a local twist – I talk about games the Monarchs played in your city against local competition – as well as discuss the history of African-American ball players from your community who participated in the Negro Leagues (when the opportunity presents itself). My program is appropriately titled, ‘The Kansas City Monarchs in our home town.’”
The timing of Dixon’s tour couldn’t be better, as the Royals played in the ‘14 World Series for the first time in 29 years.
“I’ve had the great pleasure of celebrating a Kansas City title all year long,” Dixon said. “Honestly, my timing was perfect. Few people expected the Royals return to the series in 2014, but their winning has energized my tour in small towns all over the Midwest.”
Earlier this year he decided to take his presentation to places that ordinarily do not think of themselves as centers for African-American history. The 30-minute presentation includes historic photographs, entertaining stories and colorful baseball poetry delivered to Dixon.
“I make available available these programs at no cost – I am a published author and ask only that I be able to sell my publications,” Dixon said.
His stated mission is “to educate people about the goodwill the league and its players generated and to ensure that future generations know of the important role KC’s Monarchs played in baseball history; history that was often made right in their hometowns.
“It’s a labor of love,” Dixon admits. “I believe the audiences feel my passion, dedication and commitment to the history I convey. Today, more than ever, I understand how African-American players lived and traveled.”
For the past 30 years, Dixon has recorded the African-American baseball experience with a vast array of skill and accuracy. Creative, innovative and detailed, he has researched baseball teams and documented the careers of Negro Baseball’s greatest players.
While widely regarded for his expertise on baseball, in recent years Dixon has expanded to include the world of professional boxing and other historic non-sports topics. Among his non-sports topics is a program about Blanche Ketene Bruce, Kansas University’s first African-American graduate. Dixon has authored nine previous books and has won a Casey Award for the Best Baseball Book of 1992, and a SABR MacMillan Award for his excellence in research. He formerly worked in the Public Relations Department of the Kansas City Royals, and currently serves on the Board of Governors for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, an organization which he co-founded in 1990. He is currently working on two books about boxing, “Tommy Campbell, A boxing Bout with the Mobsters,” and “Jack Johnson’s Prison Manuscripts.”
Dixon presented to nearly 500 people at a Civil Rights event in Indianapolis and on another occasion his presentation was recorded for C-Span. Requests for personal appearances have come from the Pacific Northwest, California, New Jersey, Maryland and New York.