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Live From MLB at Rickwood Field: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Connects Rich History to Tribute in Birmingham

20/06/2024

Live From MLB at Rickwood Field: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Connects Rich History to Tribute in Birmingham Institution works with MLB, players to spread their mission By Kristian Hern ndez, Senior Editor

Thursday, June 20, 2024 - 2:11 pm

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Thursday night's game at Rickwood Field will be a regular-season game on the 2024 Major League Baseball schedule, but the enduring legacy of the Negro Leagues will be on full display. As the gatekeepers of this storied lineage, the digital strategy of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) is to link the celebration in Birmingham, AL to their efforts at the heart of the historic 18th & Vine District in Kansas City, MO.

The game isn't physically being played in Kansas City, but we're still the steward of the [Negro Leagues'] story, says Kiona Sinks, director, marketing & community engagement, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to retell our history and make sure that anything the museum does is shown in the best light possible.

Starting With A Celebration: Sinks Joins During Negro Leagues' 100th Anniversary in 2020 When the country and the world were combating the COVID-19 pandemic four years ago, Sinks became a crucial part of the NBLM's fabric during the league's centennial anniversary. The museum capitalized on the chance to highlight the larger-than-life personalities that once graced ballparks across the United States. Conceived by NLBM President Bob Kendrick and spearheaded by sportswriter Joe Posnanski and notable legends in the game of baseball, the Tip Your Cap campaign recognized the players, executives, and communities that made a league like this possible at a time when the nation and MLB didn't allow some of the best to ever play the sport to show off their talents. The campaign was initially slated to take place in stadiums on June 27, 2020, but with games not being played during the summertime and the shortened MLB season not beginning until July 23, social media led the way:

Today, we all tip our cap to the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues. #TipYourCap2020 pic.twitter.com/dIcVYiRBHj

- MLB (@MLB) June 30, 2020

Not a lot of people gave [the museum] a chance at succeeding, but with the leadership of Buck O'Neill and many others who are no longer with us, they wanted the Negro Leagues to be remembered, she says. When you fast forward and see a lot of the stories that still resonate with people today, it's been surreal for me to be a part of so much that is going on now.

Since joining, Sinks has been bullish on evolving the museum's storytelling on its digital platforms. With the museum's founding at the cusp of the 21st century in 1990 and the hopes of introducing the Negro Leagues to younger demographics, she believes that it's imperative to meet these audiences where they're at.

We know why we do what we do, but we wanted to put together a strategic plan to modernize and help elevate the museum, adds Sinks. We understand that this building has changed and evolved over the last 20 years.

Amplifying the Message: Guild Collective Helps Spread the Museum's Mission Operationally, Sinks works with the professionals at Guild Collective - a creative agency that's located just outside of Kansas City in Liberty, MO - to shape the narrative and message that the NLBM is trying to convey. With the steep history of the league and a treasure trove of stories and artifacts at their disposal, the museum was keen on bringing in a company that's concerned in telling a player's off-the-field impact.

A key part of our strategy is working with people that care about the human side of their stories, continues Sinks. As the museum grows, we needed to outsource some of our brainstorming and have outside individuals who I continue to learn from.

The NLBM is in a unique position on a local and national level. Locally, their facility within an important sector of the city has become a focal point for community outreach and a beacon of how the past can be used to influence a more positive future. Nationally, the museum has not only piqued the curiosity of historians and baseball fans alike, but it's become a living and breathing embodiment of what the Negro Leagues stood for - an outlet to showcase athletic excellence, but also form the foundation of a diverse and equitable society. With the assistance of Guild, and the guidance of Kendrick and the predecessors that came before her, Sinks is crafting a social media timeline with content curated internally and sharing content from other high-profile entities that encapsulate the museum's mission.

MORE FROM MLB AT RICKWOOD FIELD:

FOX Sports Pays Tribute to Black Baseball With Special Broadcast in Birmingham

FOX Sports' Francisco Contreras and Tom Lynch Dive Into the Operations Plan

FOX Sports' Negro Leagues Tribute Game Aims To Take Sound Way Back

MLB Renovation Highlights the Historic Venue's Heyday

MLB Network Eulogizes Willie Mays in Real Time During Tuesday's MiLB Broadcast

We found a really cool way to integrate the voice of the museum with other areas of interest - including local and national media, sports media, and pop culture - that resonate with everyone, she adds. We're located in Kansas City, but it's important to reach fans in cities like St. Louis and Dallas that have a rich history of black baseball.

Like most social media accounts, the NLBM reacts to current events and specific dates on the calendar. As an educational center and community-first organization, their digital channels also shed light on the local festivities that they host around the year, including last month's March of the Monarchs on May 4. Logistically, from Sinks' point of view, it's a
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