If you ever visit Kansas City, be sure to stare into the eyes of Josh Gibson.
Or more accurately, a life-size bronze statue of the greatest power hitter in baseball history that is disturbingly lifelike.
You can see the power in the man’s 6-foot-1, 210-pound body, sinews rippling in his arms and neck. That is obvious.
As I stood inches from his face earlier this month while visiting the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City — one of the items on my small bucket list —I was drawn not to his power but rather his eyes.
The sadness in those eyes, even in a bronze statue, speaks to the pain that he and his fellow black ballplayers endured as year after year, they were denied access to the major leagues. It wouldn’t be until 1947 that Jackie Robinson became the first black player in modern major league history — three months after Gibson’s death from a stroke at the age of 35.
The museum is filled with chilling and heartbreaking exhibits that tell in shameful detail the tales of life before civil rights legislation. Of restaurants and hotels that would not serve blacks. Of gas stations prohibiting blacks from using restrooms. And even later, major league…