Award-winning baseball author Phil Dixon will be at the Fairbury Public Library on Saturday June 17 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. to give the history of the Kansas City Monarchs and how they gained experience by playing in Fairbury.
In 2014, when award winning baseball author Phil S. Dixon began his 90 City “Kansas City Monarchs In Our Hometown” tour to honor Kansas City’s 1924 World Champion Monarchs – winners of a national title 90 years ago, he never imagined where it would take him. “I started with a basic desire to return to a few cities where the Monarchs once played league and exhibition games during their 1920 to 1965 history. It quickly grew into something much larger than baseball history! Dixon, an African-American sports historian, age 60, has energized goodwill and race relations in the South, the Midwest, Upper Midwest and Canada. Since the start of 2014 his travels have taken him to thirteen states and over 130 cities and he is seeking 200 cities before he stops his current tour.
For the past 37 years Dixon has made a study of the Kansas City Monarchs and their opponents. He will tell you the “Monarchs traveled to more cities than any other professional baseball team.” He knows their history better than anyone else. The players, their opponents, where they played, where they slept, home much they earned – he can speak on it all with amazing detail. Better yet, Dixon delivery of this history is both educational and entertaining.
In 2016-2017 Dixon’s travels will continue. He is going to visit 108 cities with the presentation titled, “Kansas City Monarchs In Our Hometown.” He will readily admit, “Most people have heard of Jackie Robinson, some have heard of Satchel Paige, many have heard of the Kansas City Monarchs but few know how connected these men and their teams were to cities and communities all over America. The Kansas City Monarchs and their opponents changed modern sports and social history forever.” Telling these historic stories will keep Dixon on the road for two additional years.
Dixon’s program is a unique blend of sports and the arts. He talks about Monarchs’ games played in that particular city – data he researched over years and blends in stories and poetry. “In some cities the Monarchs competed against local competition, in others, they battled against Negro League teams or major league All-Star teams and players, history that is unknown to most of the local residents. Games were generally against white players and teams,” he advised. “People who attend my presentations hear stories of folks that once lived in that particular community, local residents, perhaps a relative or a neighbor. This is the kind of relevant local history I combine with the history of African-American baseball in my Hometown presentations. It is not your typical baseball production, I have learned how to tell stories as they were told to me, colorful and creatively.”
A native of Kansas City, Kansas, and a University of Missouri graduate; he has authored numerous books on Negro League baseball, including one on Wilber “Bullet” Rogan, a Monarch, that Dixon calls, “the greatest all-around player in baseball history.” As a writer Dixon has won several awards. He won the prestigious Casey Award for the Best Baseball Book of 1992 and received a SABR (Society of American Baseball Researchers) MacMillan Award for his excellence in historical research. He formerly worked in the Public Relations office of the American League Kansas City Royals. He has contributed articles to newspapers and written history on the backs of baseball cards. Dixon is also a co-founder of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.
“My lifelong mission is to bring people together by educating them through my writing and speaking. I desire to share the goodwill and positive race relations Negro League baseball, its owners and its players generated and to ensure that future generations know of the important role Kansas City’s Monarchs and other teams played in baseball history; history that was often made right in their hometowns,” said Dixon. “Diversity has been good for America. I believe the audiences feel my passion, dedication and commitment to the history I convey. They understand that I come to unify, not to divide.”
The LaSalle News Tribune newspaper called Dixon the “People’s Historian.” He is doing all he can to live up to that title.
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