This tony ballpark is mostly obscure to even the most knowledgeable baseball fan, but some 90 plus years ago it might have been the host to one of the most unimaginable matchup of two teams one could contrive – a squad of Klu Klux Klan vs one of Negro Leaguers.
But it did happen and from all accounts an epic game to witness. The Negro League team was the Wichita Monrovians, a solid unit that mostly barnstormed. They came into the game with a 52-8 record against mostly top amateur clubs and many of these teams were white.
The Klu Klux Klan nine was a local Wichita club that went by the name “Number 6 team”. Little else is known about them or their players who participated in this game.
As for motivation it’s easier to understand why the Monrovians would agree to this game, for one they’re more of a professional team and playing was their way to earn a living. And second, what African-American young man of that era, or any other for that matter, wouldn’t the relish the opportunity to stick it to bigots.
For the Klu Klux Klan it was a little more complicated, but at the time Kansas had a newspaper publisher by the name of William Allen White that was running for Governor in 1924 and was strongly anti-Klan. He was also campaigning to abolish the white supremacist group (I like this guy already) while calling them “self-constituted body of moral idiots.”.
So the sentiment was starting to turn in Kansas against the Klu Klux Klan, and the hate group saw this as a chance to invoke some positive public relations, and hence agreed to the contest.
With both teams agreeing to play and promised a clean game, the attention turned to the fans, at the time it was thought that the Wichita area had up to 6,000 Klan members. Violence from this end was a concern, so much that when a local paper printed an article announcing the game they added:
“Strangle holds, razors and horsewhips, and other violent implements of argument will be barred at the baseball game at Island Park…when the baseball club of Wichita Klan Number 6 goes up against the Wichita Monrovians, Wichita’s crack colored team.
The colored boys are asking all their supporters to be on hand to watch (the) contest…due to the wide difference of the two organizations….the novelty of the game will attract a large crowd of fans altho [sic] both teams say that all the fans will see is baseball”
To make sure the umpires were impartial and without bias, the game was officiated by two white Catholics, ‘Irish’ Garrety and Dan Dwyer.
At game time it was a blistering 102 degrees with strong winds and both teams in the first five innings had scored one run. But then the bats from both sides got cooking in the heat and a tight game turned into a sew saw battle with the Monrovians at the end being on top by a 10-8 score.
Victory was theirs and hate had lost the day.
-Ron A. Bolton