Already regarded as one of the top teams in Negro League baseball, the Kansas City Monarchs became known as a powerhouse unit in the 1930s and 40s. They rolled into towns with lights, amazing athletes, and competitive play. They won championship after championship during these years as Kansas City baseball fans strongly supported them. As they became an integral part of the city, the Monarchs' success, open-seating policy, and jazzy home openers fostered a large following of mixed-race fans. The local black newspaper, the Kansas City Call, held them up on a pedestal, while sportswriters for the mainstream Kansas City Star/Times downplayed the Monarchs' accomplishments and influence in the community. This thesis focuses on the relationship the Call had with the best team in black baseball through the context of its treatment of games, players, league officials, and team owners, as well as other patterns and tactics. Analysis of the Star/Times coverage is also considered to show variances in coverage between one city's race-divided newspapers. Negro League baseball and the African American newspapers that covered the teams grew out of and illustrated the segregation laws and prejudices feelings that existed in the United States during most of the twentieth century. Over time, especially when the sports world moved into the post-integration period, the Call's bolstering of the Monarchs deteriorated as the paper's promotion of democracy steered its sportswriters away from a baseball organization that symbolized segregation. The different types of coverage by the Call throughout the twenty-year study can be described as all-out promotion, balance, and abandonment. In the 1950s nostalgia and conflict existed, as the Call's sportswriters became torn on how to cover a team that was once the pride of the black community, but now represented inequality. In an attempt to remedy this torment, the Call tried to convince black baseball officials to remove the “Negro League” stigma by signing players of all races in order to mirror the more democratic Major Leagues. The white press, meanwhile, ignored the bigger issues of black baseball as one Negro League team after another died in the 1950s. The Star/Times peripheral coverage of the Monarchs provides context to the social issues and discriminatory practices at play in Missouri. As this thesis outlines the coverage of the Monarchs through the Black and White newspapers of Kansas City, previous research is substantiated and challenged to provide a fuller account of Jim Crow's effects.



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Fine Arts and Communications; Communications



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Monarchs, Kansas City, Negro Leagues, black press, Jim Crow, black baseball, Kansas City Call, Chester A. Franklin, John I. Johnson, Chicago Defender, Pittsburgh Courier, Wendell Smith, Sam Lacy, Frank Young, Lucile Bluford, Ernest Mehl, C.E. McBride, Kansas City Star, Kansas City Times, white press, segregation, Major Leagues, color barrier, baseball integration, baseball, Buck O'Neil, J.L. Wilkinson, Tom Baird, Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson, Hank Thompson, Ernie Banks, opening day, jazz, Missiouri



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