Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ku Klux Klan Versus the Wichita Monrovians

With last night's All Star Game up the road in Kansas City in the history books, it seems like a good time to write about a Kansas baseball story that is important to American civil rights.

This summer is the 87th anniversary of one of the most unusual games in baseball history: The black Wichita Monrovians versus the Ku Klux Klan. The Monrovians were popular and well-known in Wichita. They played in one of the many all-Negro leagues.

The Klan was being chased out of Kansas. According to the web site, Only A Game,

The Klan, on the other hand, was struggling just to stay in Kansas. They were fighting a long legal battle with the State. And Progressive newspaper owner William Allen White was waging a public relations campaign against the Klan.

As a PR move, the Klan agreed to play the game.

“They were on their way out,” Pearson said. “By that time William Allen White had started his lobbying protests against them to get them ousted out of the state and it was kind of one of those last ditch efforts to say, ‘Hey, we’re really not so bad, we’ll play with them, see?’”

Although none occurred, there was concern about violence. From the Wichita Beacon:

“Only baseball is on tap at Island Park,” read the Wichita Beacon headline of June 21st, 1925. The article went on to say that, “strangleholds, razors, and horsewhips” would not be allowed, 

So, who would referee what might have been a polarized game? The Monrovians decided to hire "Catholics"!

The final score? The Monrovians defeated the Klan 10-8.

More from Wichita's NPR station KMUW below:

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