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The President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum defends the decision to move the Legacy Awards Show

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Last week I posted a link to Sam Mellinger’s story in the Kansas City Star about the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s decision not to hold its annual Legacy Awards Show this month. Today I received an email from the President of the NLBM, Dr. Raymond Doswell, who takes issue with Mellinger’s characterization and, subsequently, my posting regarding it. Dr. Doswell writes:

Thanks again for sharing information about the NLBM on your blog recently. Let me say that much of what Mr. Mellinger wrote needs clarification. He was, at best, “incomplete,” at worst “selective,” in his “reporting” of our plans.

Let me start by attaching the full press release regarding our awards and planned changes for the event moving forward. I will also include you on our media blasts moving forward.

Some quick notes of clarification:

1. The Legacy Awards were not cancelled; they were never planned for this year. Not sure how you can cancel an event that was not planned. It is traditionally held in January, but his date of last weekend for the event is his own creation. One of the issues we always run into with January is being pinched between the Baseball Writers Awards in NYC, the Super Bowl, and the start of Spring Training. Plus, if you look outside, we are not having “chamber of commerce” kind of weather lately (8 inches of snow and ice just last week).

2. It is not true that sponsors were not notified of the new direction. As noted in our statement, we held a focus group with key sponsors and patrons after the last event to recommend changes. The move from January to November was one of them in part for some of the reasons stated above. We will have the 2011 season gala come back on 11/11/11 and it will feature centennial salutes to O’Neil and Josh Gibson. We certainly wanted to announce things a lot sooner, I admit, and we may not have gotten notice to everyone we wanted sooner. There was much happening in our leadership transition that needed to take priority.

We are very excited for our winners for this year and about our program moving forward. The museum feels it has made a prudent decision to enhance all of our events for 2011 and position us for a great 2012 with the coming of the MLB All-Star Game.

I don’t deign to know enough about what goes on with the Museum to say anything particularly intelligent here. At most I’ll say that, if Mellinger is correct and that the Legacy Awards have been held in January for the past decade, it’s a bit cute to say that “they were not cancelled; they were never planned for this year.” Dr. Doswell admits that the decision was made late and that communication of it was less-than-ideal. If that’s all it was, fine, but one of the signs of a healthy organization is that attention to this sort of thing is well-paid. Of course, as Dr. Doswell admitted to me in his email -- and will admit to anyone who asks, I presume -- the Museum is not where it wants to be and could use all the support it can get.

People familiar with the Museum will know best about this. For my part, I trust Sam Mellinger’s reporting and have come to have confidence in his opinions. Same for Joe Posnanski, who has previously voiced his concern over the state of the Museum and its management. Still, in the absence of first-hand knowledge about this stuff, it seems only fair to provide Dr. Doswell with equal time, as it were. Read the press release in full. Read Mellinger’s piece if you haven’t already. Read Posnanski’s from a couple of months ago.