Thursday, April 7, 2011

Baseball Exhibit at Harzfeld's Building

On Thursday, April 14 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. the Kansas City Baseball Historical Society will unveil an exhibit of baseball memorabilia including uniforms, equipment, photos and a wide array of baseball collectibles at 1101 Main Street (ground floor of Town Pavilion). Items from the Kansas City Athletics, Royals, Monarchs, Blues and Major League Baseball will be displayed including autographed items of Babe Ruth and other Hall of Famers. A silent auction will be held for various Kansas City baseball memorabilia, and former Kansas City baseball players are expected to attend. No cost for members of the KCBHS, non-members are invited for a minimum donation of $10, or they may join the KCBHS at the event. Proceeds will go to the Kansas City Athletics Annual Reunion in July. Questions, call 913-961-0929 or visit

With Harzfeld's connection to the very early carrier of a famous Kansas City ballplayer, it will be an apropos exhibit. Here's an excerpt from Chapter 2 of Harzfelds: A Brief History.

Sieg (Harzfeld) had a number of passions that fulfilled his desire “to work to live.” Sieg sponsored a baseball team by the name of, what else, “The Parisian Cloak Companys” in the City Junior League. Other teams in their leaugue were the Garfields, Bell Telephone Companys, Hyde Parks, C. L. Richmonds, Elmhursts, Olive Athletics, and Linwoods (replacing the Warf Rats). There were dozens of amateur teams including the Coca-Colas, Montgomery Wards, Penn Valley Parks, Kansas City Arts, Sunflowers, Paseo Blues, Rockhill Blues, Baby Elephants, Troost Avenue Athletics, Hoo-hoo Hitters, and the Justrites.

When Sieg’s friend Louis Stengel bragged to him about his son Charley’s sporting ability, he was drafted into “The Parisians” as early as 1907. Years prior, Sieg may have seen the young Charley spraying water on the dirt streets of Kansas City. It was a practice of the day for retailers such as The Parisian to contract with individuals to spray down dirt streets with water to help control the clouds of dust kicked up by horses, wagons and foot traffic. Louis was in charge of arranging these contracts. Charley tried his hand at sprinkling, but he had other ambitions, such as picking up a game of baseball in open lots around town or taking in a vaudeville show. Charley later attended Central High School, just blocks east of Harzfeld’s. Sieg paid him, as he did all the players, $1.50 per game. This was Stengel’s first taste of “professional” ball.

Years later, when drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers, while playing minor league ball in Montgomery, Alabama, Charley was given the name “Casey” in honor of his hometown. He went on to play major league ball with the Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Giants and the Boston Braves. He played in three World Series, but his greatest success came later as a manager. Casey led the New York Yankees to win 10 pennants in 12 years.

In 1955, Casey returned to Kansas City while managing the Yankees against Kansas City’s new entry into the major leagues, The A’s. Stengel’s stylish wife, Edna, was presented with a bottle of French perfume from Harzfeld’s in honor of his early relationship with the Kansas City specialty store.

Other Exhibits in Kansas City

Diana, through June 12 - A Celebration (at Union Station)

Monet's Water Lilies, open to everyone this coming weekend through August 7 (at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art)

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