White Sox

Trip to Negro Leagues Baseball Museum offers White Sox players perspective

Trip to Negro Leagues Baseball Museum offers White Sox players perspective

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Any time a current major leaguer walks into the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Bob Kendrick likes to provide insight into the hardships endured by the players of yesteryear.

The NLBM president since 2011 and a longtime employee, Kendrick has regaled many current and former big leaguers with tales of legends Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Buck O’Neil and the difficult times those players faced to play baseball.

One passage Kendrick often recounts to deliver more awareness is how Paige in 1938 received $1 of meal money per day from a Mexican League club that signed him in the hopes of making a big splash to challenge Major League Baseball, which had yet to be integrated. Paige’s huge payday is the 2017 equivalent of about $16.77 per day and pales with modern big leaguers, who still receive a significantly bigger per diem despite the addition of a full-time chef in the clubhouse for each game. Kendrick views these visits as his chance to help raise awareness and interest in the Museum, which has been open since 1990 and had more than 60,000 visitors last year.

“I think players gain a different perspective,” Kendrick said. “When you do something like they do and make a great living doing it, there’s a tendency to take for granted what you have. But then you come here and witness what these men did for the love of the game, the sacrifices they made, the challenges that they had to overcome to play this game, all of a sudden it gives you a different perspective about just how good things are.”

Tim Anderson, Todd Frazier and Rick Renteria were part of a White Sox contingent that visited the museum located in the historic 18th & Vine district early Tuesday. Whether it’s chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s love of all things Jackie Robinson or Kenny Williams’ team-mandatory trip in 2006, Kendrick said the White Sox have always had a strong relationship with the Negro Leagues museum.

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Anderson — who recently signed an extension that could pay him $50.5 million over the next eight seasons — appreciates the history he has learned with both of his trips to the museum. He also visited last season on the final Kansas City trip in mid-September.

“The museum is really amazing,” Anderson said. “I’m really blessed. For them to have a dollar, and the money we have now, I treasure that and don’t forget where I started from.”

A one-room room facility when it first opened in 1990, the museum moved across the street seven years later into a 10,000-square foot facility. Kendrick said the Museum’s most ardent supporters in the early days were Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones and LaTroy Hawkins, who stopped in when the Minnesota Twins visited Kansas City. Now, roughly 10 teams visit per season, according to Kendrick. He offers players and coaches personal tours because he knows word of mouth is critical for the NLBM’s profile. Bryce Harper provided the Museum a boost last year by posting on Instagram after he and Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker visited.

“It’s always exciting to have an opportunity to show off the museum, particularly to those who make their living in the game of baseball,” Kendrick said. “Most of the athletes we meet are so young and so they don’t have any idea unless they are really, really astute in the history of our sport.

“We need these ballplayers carrying that message and to want to come by and experience the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.”

Frazier shared his experience via Twitter on Tuesday. He took a picture with the statue of fellow third baseman Ray Dandridge, who played for 10 teams in a career that began with the Detroit Stars in 1933 and ended with the Bismarck Barons in 1955. A great average hitter, Dandridge was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987. A second-time visitor himself, Frazier is always impressed when he hears about what Negro Leagues players endured just to keep playing baseball. A storyteller himself, Frazier said he appreciates Kendrick’s yarns and the nicknames he provides.

“The guy’s stories are unbelievable,” Frazier said. “He is a smart human being. He knows everything. The sayings he’s got for everybody, the stories, it felt like I was in that era.”

Remember That Guy: Chris Snopek

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Remember That Guy: Chris Snopek

Chris Snopek was born September 20, 1970 in Cynthiana, KY. He was a multi-sport standout in high school, averaging 18.5 points and 8.0 assists on the hardwood, as well as hitting .576 with 20 HR as a senior on the diamond. He was a standout third baseman/shortstop at Ole Miss, hitting .407/.491/.725 with 13 home runs and 62 RBI (a school-record at the time) in 54 games as a junior. The White Sox made him a 6th round draft pick in 1992.

In 1994, Snopek played for the Double-A Birmingham Barons, where he was one of two players on the team with 50+ RBI and 50+ walks. The other one was Michael Jordan.By 1995, Snopek hit .323/.402/.494 with 12 HR in 113 games for Nashville (AAA); that batting average good for second in the American Association. He made his MLB Debut on July 31, 1995, going 2 for 3 with a run, RBI, walk and stolen base as the starting third baseman. The 6’1” right-handed infielder drew a walk in each of his first five career MLB games; the first White Sox player to do so since Ray Morehart in 1924.

The White Sox had Robin Ventura at third and Ozzie Guillen at short, so Snopek had to settle for a start here and a start there. He was sent back down to the minors but returned in September. On September 20, 1995, Snopek connected for his first career home run; the blast coming off Indians starter Joe Roa. The milestone round tripper came on Snopek’s 25th birthday. He remains the only player in White Sox history whose first career home run came on his birthday. It was his lone homer of 1995, though Snopek did quite well in his first taste of MLB action, hitting .324 (22 for 68), .407 vs lefties (11 for 27) in 22 games.

Entering the 1996 season, he was the #52 overall prospect according to Baseball America (in between Jason Varitek and Dustin Hermanson); topping the White Sox organizational top ten:

White Sox top 10 prospects according to Baseball America entering 1996

  1. Chris Snopek
  2. Jeff Abbott
  3. Scott Ruffcorn
  4. James Baldwin
  5. Jeff Liefer
  6. Mike Cameron
  7. Jimmy Hurst
  8. Luis Andujar
  9. McKay Christensen
  10. Greg Norton

Snopek started the 1996 season in a utility role, making spot starts at third and short as well as pinch hitting. On April 28, 1996, he became the first White Sox shortstop to start and hit cleanup since Ron Hansen in 1967 (Only José Valentín & Alexei Ramírez have done it since). In limited duty, Snopek hit 6 home runs in 1996 – all off lefties.

Snopek got his chance in 1997 when Robin Ventura suffered an ankle injury, getting the nod as the opening day third baseman. He went 0 for 5 that game and never got it going, hitting .218/.263/.319 in 86 games. The following season, after struggling to the tune of .208/.291/.248 in 53 games, Snopek was traded to the Red Sox at the end of August, where he finished the season and as fate would have it, his MLB career, with eight final games. He bounced around the minors the next four seasons.

In 2017, Snopek and a business partner purchased P360 Performance Sports in Jackson, Mississippi, where they offer baseball training facilities and instruction programs. Snopek also serves as the Assistant Varsity Baseball Coach at Madison Ridgeland Academy in Mississippi.

Chris Snopek… remember that guy?

White Sox Talk Podcast: Inside the White Sox prospects trip to the Dominican Republic

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Inside the White Sox prospects trip to the Dominican Republic

Thirteen of the White Sox top American born prospects are in the Dominican Republic this week for a cultural exchange trip organized by the White Sox, giving players like Dylan Cease, Nick Madrigal, Zack Collins and Dane Dunning a first-hand experience to learn about the country where many of their Latin teammates like Eloy Jimenez call home. Chuck Garfien speaks with Ryan McGuffey who is covering the trip for NBC Sports Chicago. They talk about the White Sox training academy in the Dominican Republic (3:50), what the players are learning and how they're bonding on the trip (6:30), the crazy atmosphere going to a Dominican Winter League game (11:10), going with Reynaldo Lopez to the home where he grew up (14:40), personal stories from the trip (23:15) and more.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: