If not for that team, if not for that buccaneering league that housed them, would that scout — that “white fellow,” in the words of inquiring teammates — ever have approached Jackie Robinson in late August of 1945 at Chicago’s Comiskey Park? Would that scout have asked him to meet him in Toledo and then take the train east with him but in the meantime ask him to keep quiet about those plans?
Would he have beseeched Robinson to please believe him when he told him why he was there? “Jack,” he said to him. “This could be the real thing.”
Before — but not long before — Jackie Robinson was a Brooklyn Dodger or even a Montreal Royal, he was a Kansas City Monarch. Robinson’s 34-game turn with the iconic Negro American League franchise in 1945, his first season as a professional baseball player, isn’t exactly forgotten, but given his later pioneering and history-crafting, Robinson’s Monarch days often get forsaken in discussions of his legacy.
On the 75th anniversary of his trailblazing debut, though, it is important to remember how we got to that April 15, 1947, MLB debut. And that story cannot be told without the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League.