KANSAS CITY, MO. -- The bronze statue of Stan Musial outside Busch Stadium in St. Louis is much more than a convenient place for friends to meet before a Cardinals game. It embodies the memories of a historic player who is a symbol of a historic franchise.
No such statues exist for Chappie Johnson, Turkey Stearnes or Josh Gibson. Not even for Satchel Paige or Cool Papa Bell.
Organizers of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum say a whole part of baseball -- baseball played long before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier -- is not only ignored, it is forgotten.
"Black teams were playing in the 1860s," said Phil Dixon, spokesman for the museum organization that includes former Royals second baseman Frank White as a vice president and Ernie Banks as one of 10 board members.
"We were there all the time. No one is recognizing anybody who was any good before 1920. Kids today, they don't know there was a color bar. The feeling is black people weren't there. They say, 'They weren't any good.' "
The museum, scheduled to open in 1992, will feature the perfect counterpart to Musial's -- a life-sized replica of Paige throwing his hesitation pitch.
Paige played in the Negro Leagues from the 1920s to the 1940s and may have been recognized as one of the greatest pitchers ever had he not been black. But his official history in the Baseball Encyclopedia does not begin until 1948 when he broke in with Cleveland as the first black pitcher in the American League.
No one knows how many years Paige pitched, but he's officially credited with only six years with Cleveland, St. Louis and Kansas City.
"Something is not right," Dixon said. "There is a whole lot of baseball beyond what they tell you about. When you pick up the book and you read it, it's as if it never existed."
One of the biggest problems of ignoring black baseball is current baseball records, Dixon said. He mentioned people like Bruce Petway and Johnson.
"It isn't a color issue," Dixon said. "But it's a major issue. They were known as the greatest catchers. John Beckwith and Turkey Stearnes. These were bona fide hitters. Their contributions to the game can't be denied.
"The major league stolen base record for a catcher is set by a utility man named John Wathan," he said. "I don't know what that means for the major leagues, but I can't think it's going to help."
So many records are lost or were not kept.
The Kansas City Monarchs, one of the charter teams when the Negro National League was organized in 1920 in Kansas City, played 500 home games from 1920 to 1930. Dixon found just two box scores in the five different papers published in Kansas City in those years.
It took him eight years to compile those box scores from other sources.
"Can you imagine having a Bo Jackson that nobody is talking about?" Dixon asked. "People might not believe you. There are those kinds of guys out there."
Dixon sees the museum as a repository for memorabilia, but more important as a resource for researchers.
"The main thing is putting all these things in one place for a guy to write about," he said. "The more we get people writing, the more we get people interested."
The museum has received $5 million in financing from the city and will be established as part of a project that includes renovation of the city's historic jazz district.
W. Lloyd Johnson, a former senior research associate at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown -- where some members of the Negro Leagues have been added -- has been named director.
Planned exhibits include the Negro National League Room, the Eastern Colored League Room, the Barnstorming Room, the Integrated Room and the Jackie Robinson Room.
"It's a baby," Dixon said of the museum.
"But we're going to have it crawling soon. To think that 10 years from now, someone from anywhere in the country can have at their fingertips something that I've traveled all over the country for and have had to dig out, that's exciting to me."