Hard work and success are as deeply intertwined as Buck O’Neil and baseball. Even though you could have one without the other, neither the victories – nor the stories – would be quite as sweet. I’m yet to find a situation when baseball’s lessons don’t apply, and that is especially true in business. One of the unique benefits of my keynotes are the behind the scenes anecdotes from my career as a sports broadcaster that motivate and inspire unlike any other. All of my sessions are customized, but most include at least one story about the legend himself, Buck O’Neil. When talking baseball, how could you not?
In July, Buck was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and finally received the long-overdue recognition he deserved. I was honored with the assignment of a lifetime when asked to facilitate the occasion. I’d never been to Cooperstown, but got to cover the events live on location. The historic event was a celebration of a remarkable man. He changed lives in the Negro Leagues and Major League Baseball, and his contributions were given a deserving celebration.
Kansas City is home to many cultural gems, but one in particular is the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Buck played a first-hand role in its creation, ensuring there was a place to honor and tell the stories of all the men who played. Since his passing, his successor Bob Kendrick has preserved the legacy and spirit of Buck with brilliant leadership and storytelling. And the next generation of leadership recently joined on my podcast Rounding the Bases. We talked Buck, baseball, hard work and success.
She’s a rising star of civic innovation and an inspired champion of excellence. Despite being a twenty-something herself, she’s already hard at work building a more inclusive tomorrow…while honoring the legacy of our past. Her name is Kiona Sinks, and if this is the first you’ve heard of her, it won’t be the last.
Kiona is the Community Engagement and Digital Strategy Manager for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, where she’s giving a modern voice to this rich chapter of baseball history. With the same legendary spirit as the late, great Buck O’Neil, she’s highlighting black achievement in America’s pastime and advancing a community where all walks and colors can equally share in its joy.
SINGLE: Nothing to Lose
She may be young, but Kiona has never been afraid of hard work. And success has always managed to find her as a result. While earning her undergraduate degree at Central Methodist University, she founded its African American Student Union. She needed a way to give student members a broader appreciation of Black History Month’s significance. But her college town of Fayette, Missouri didn’t have what she was looking for. So she coordinated a tour that changed her life with Kansas City’s Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
The tour marked her first meeting with its President, Bob Kendrick, who recognized her potential immediately. She remembered Bob telling her, “If Kansas City is ever home for you, come back and see me.” She admits that at the time, she didn’t quite understand what that meant. But in the aftermath of George Floyd’s tragic death, she began to recognize the differences between her insulated collegiate world and what was really happening outside of it. This changed her perspective on civic engagement, and her ambitions began to crystalize. With nothing to lose and no idea what was next, she reached out to Bob Kendrick. The rest, as they say, is history.
DOUBLE: Focused on Success
Under ordinary circumstances, Kiona’s position at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum means interaction with sports legends are an inevitable part of her job description. But with Buck’s Hall of Fame initiation this year, the star power she’s come to find herself regularly surrounded by has reached a whole new level.
It would be easy for even the most seasoned professionals to be starstruck. So I was curious to know what that is like for someone who has only been in the workforce for a handful of years. “I have to be focused on the task at hand,” she said, ever the professional, while also acknowledging that at ties, she has to check herself. “Every day I’m surrounded by champions who overcame, and it inspires me to overcome too,” she told me. And it’s that kind of perseverance helping her to carve a path of her own, within the museum and our community at large.
TRIPLE: Thanks A Million
Buck finally took his place among the legends in Cooperstown on July 24, 2022. His official induction was over, but the real work was just beginning for Kiona and her team. “Buck’s our guy, and we want to make sure that we show up in this moment,” she said. And on July 28, she launched the “Thanks A Million Buck” campaign to honor his legacy in baseball and celebrate his long-overdue recognition. Whether in Kansas City or across the nation, even a million thanks wouldn’t be enough to recognize everything he did for the game of baseball.
HOME RUN: Living Legacy
For the late chairman of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Cooperstown marks the penultimate achievement. Civically, locally and nationally, it’s an honor that people of all ages can appreciate is monumental, but maybe not the gravitas of it finally happening for Buck. “I don’t think people my age are really grasping,” Kiona reflected. “This transcends.” And in many ways, had so many specific pieces not fallen into place the way they did, it may not have happened at all.
Buck hand selected Bob Kendrick, the current President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. They worked side-by-side for sixteen years to ensure the exhibits at 18th and Vine were everything they should – and deserved – to be. “It’s chilling to think that, at some point, Bob and Buck were sharing these moments together,” she said. But what if it hadn’t been Bob? Where would the museum be? Would there even be a museum? Questions we may never have to answer thanks to the leadership that is keeping the stories alive. “It’s such a moment in time,” she said. “And it’s hard to articulate, but I’m just grateful to be a small part of our success.”
Learn More About Hard Work and Success from Joel
Book Joel Goldberg for your next corporate event. He draws on over 25 years of experience as a sports broadcaster. In addition, he brings unique perspectives and lessons learned from some of the world’s most successful organizations. Whatever your profession, Joel is the keynote speaker who can help your team achieve a championship state of mind.
Joel Goldberg 0:15
Hey everybody, welcome into Rounding the Bases, the podcast about culture and leadership with a baseball twist presented by Community America Credit Union hope you are doing well. As I’m recording this, I am coming to you from a hotel room in Houston, Texas. But who knows when you’ll be listening to this perhaps before the event, a big event that’s coming up that we’re going to talk about in part with this podcast more on that and my guest in just a moment. Quick shout out to my friends at Chief of Staff Kansas City, they are the best in the business. Whether you’re looking to pay someone whether you’re looking for a job yourself the beauty of Chief of Staff, Kansas City one, they’re based in Kansas City, they’ve got clients all across the country. They love to help people, whether that leads to them getting the business or not, they are just going to taking care of people. I love working with people like that. So check them out Chief of Staff kc.com. As for today’s episode, for an inspired champion of excellence, look no further than my guest. She’s a rising star of civic innovation with a passion for activism. Despite being a 20 Something herself, she’s already hard at work building a more inclusive tomorrow while honoring the legacy of our past. Her name is Kiona Sinks, she happens to be a very close friend of mine. And if this is the first you’ve heard of her, it won’t be the last. It can’t be the first you’ve heard of her right? She’s the Community Engagement and Digital Strategy Manager for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, where she’s giving a modern voice to this rich chapter of baseball history. With the same legendary spirit as the late, great Buck O’Neil, as her boss, Bob Kendrick, President of the museum, just so much spirit, she’s highlighting black achievement in America’s pastime and advancing a community where all walks and colors can equally share in its joy. There is a lot of work to still be done. There always is. And I’m just glad that Kiona has got a minute of her time, I don’t know how, to visit with me. I think I call her my little sister, she calls me her big brother. And it’s crazy, actually how we met. I want to go here real quick, just because I feel like you and I have known each other forever. And I feel like people certainly around Kansas City and starting around a little bit around the country now to feel like they’ve probably known you, worked with you, seeing you at the museum forever. But this has been kind of a whirlwind, crazy couple of years for you all go back. I know it didn’t start by knowing that when you met me, but I’ll go back with you and I met but we’d never met each other. And suddenly, you’re asking me on a podcast, and I’m having you on mine. And you’re at the museum and on and on and on. I mean, this been a fast track for you, hasn’t it?
Kiona Sinks 3:03
Yeah, it’s been a crazy, you know, last would be two years in September, which is hard to believe it feels like it’s been six or 10. But just grateful, you know that this journey has really been able to be a very special one. And I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world and just very blessed, you know, very fortunate to be where I am. And I know me, you, we always talk about that, too, you know, like don’t take these things in these moments for granted because they don’t come around that often.
Joel Goldberg 3:30
You’re in a unique spot in so many different ways. I mean, like more ways than I can count because you’re so heavily involved in this community of Kansas City that you now call home. That’s not where you grew up, but not too far away, in Columbia, Missouri. And you know, you get out of school and the chips start to fall in place. And oh, by the way, none of it’s just handed to you. You’re still working as hard as anybody. It’s always like, Okay, what’s next? What’s next? So you keep building and building and building. But I think my question for you is that you’re at an age and I almost I see this a make a comparison to say like, one of our good young ballplayers, Bobby Witt, Jr. He’s not supposed to be experiencing everything he’s experiencing at 22. But but he’s able to handle it. It’s…it’s unique. But he’s, he’s a one of a kind. And you started experiencing all these things at 22, 23, 24. And now, it’s 26. I think whatever it is, it’s young. You’re, you’re constantly surrounded by people that have been at the top of their profession sometimes for 20, 30, 40 years. And then there’s the young kid, they’re soaking it all in. What is that like? Because you always want to pay attention and learn at the same time. Sometimes it’s probably easy to be in awe of what’s around you.
Kiona Sinks 4:51
Yeah, as you said, it’s all it’s it’s easy to be an all in googly eyes. And then there’s an opportunity for me to also. You know, real time like, Hey, this is my job, you know right now and I have to be focused on the task at hand. And I’ve been able to experience it in a very much high level, you know, situation situation this year because of Buck’s induction and a lot of these legendary people, but also simultaneously with the community at large here in Kansas City, because that is the home of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, we’re just a national institution that’s, you know, preserving black baseball right here in our backyard. But also we have this national platform to preserve America’s pastime. So, you know, everyday looks different for me, I don’t know how I’m, you know, keeping up with, you know, everything all at once. But what I do know, is the stories and these individuals who really resonate with the history that I’m surrounded by every day are champions, and they too overcame and I think they gives me a lot of inspiration to see you know, they can do it, I can do it. And I’ve done it because I’ve carved my own path in a smaller way. Not necessarily to sports but all the all the stories apply, you know, hard work, perseverance, keeping your head up and being consistent. And so it has his day, some days I’m starstruck some days on Sundays, I’m stressing because I gotta do my job. But man, what a journey and I’m just super proud of myself for keeping a straight path ahead, because I wouldn’t be here if I would have not took and taken some of those turns and twists that has afforded this path today.
Joel Goldberg 6:39
Well in there’s so much more to come. But it’s like there’s no time to really catch your breath. Because there’s so many things going on. I want to talk about Buck O’Neil, I want to talk about Hall of Fame, that that’s really the biggest reason why I wanted to have you on because this aware in advance of of one of the most significant days in the history of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and I would argue one of the most significant days in the history of the Negro Leagues because it I don’t want to say it comes full circle, because if you go back to full circle, that means he’s gone back to nothing like the way some in the Negro Leaguers were treated in this country. However, it’s the culmination of of the effort of so many people beginning with those ballplayers, decades, generations ago, but in the midst of, of all of that going on, still still have a museum that’s functioning, you’re still out in the community, you’re still constantly growing and the growth Museum, post pandemic, during the pandemic was was astronomical. But tell me a little bit about about your role there and how you ended up landing at the Negro Leagues Baseball museum, you will be the first to admit that you were not a baseball kid growing up, you will also often be the one to admit that you’re still learning every single day. Yet you’re at more ballparks now and and more baseball settings. And you’re at that museum pretty much every single day. So how did you come in into this job?
Kiona Sinks 8:09
Yeah, well, I started as a volunteer and then vicariously through the way of a scholarship through the Greater Kansas City Foundation. When I was at Central Methodist for undergrad, they said hey, Kiona love to support your education. But you got to come back to Kansas City, you know, to do community service, and you got to maintain that 3.0. And I said, Well, that’s all I got to do, just come to Kansas City at least once a quarter or once a semester, whatever. Um, so So that took care of school. Little did I know that I would stumble, you know, right into a place called the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum at the time when I was founding our colleges African American Student Union, because black history was not found in Fayette, Missouri. So of course, we had to go somewhere for the sake of February to you know, see those contributions highlighted to really give the students at the time a broader appreciation for why February was such an important month. And very fortunate because at the time, the program that I was in, new, obviously, the museum and made that phone call for Bob to tour our group. And it’s been history ever since. And I remember Bob just telling me, Hey, if you ever, you know, Kansas City is home for you, if you ever decide to stay, you know, come back and see me. And so I never knew what that really meant, at the time. But when I moved after graduating with honors from Central Methodist University, I knew that experience changed my life because this was at that time, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, you know, obviously our country got a taste of that with George Floyd in a more broader global scope during the pandemic, but that that was my awakening and kind of life changing, you know, pivot of like, man, you know, this, this this world, you know, you’re in this bubble in college and when you go out into the real world, these are real world issues were real problems and so on. It really, you know, changed my perspective on the museum, changed my perspective and civic engagement as a whole being involved in Kansas City. And so I just started putting one foot in front of the other Joel. And really, building my brand, like you said, came at a cost wasn’t in this whole, like, mapped out situation where at where I knew what was coming next, it was just, you know, let’s just, let’s just do it, you have nothing to lose, the worst thing that can happen is, you’re not trying. And so that really afforded me a full time role. During the pandemic, when the museum’s doors were closed, shut down, just like our entire country, the museum was not operating in one of the biggest years celebrating the 100th anniversary, and we couldn’t do anything. And so I remember coming in here with Bob and recording videos, literally, for Twitter, and for social media. So people could still see and hear his voice, but also still feel closer to the museum. And we didn’t have a brand strategy. We didn’t have any, you know, corporate partnerships at the time that were active, because a lot of that stuff had really, you know, the will in a way, because we were already in a crisis, so that at that time, it was just, Hey, you want this job. And then I wasn’t sure, because I understand that this museum, as you’ve mentioned, with Buck, and how everything’s coming full circle. And if you if you’re a Kansas Citian or if you know anything about Bob Kendrick and Buck O’Neil and those shoes will never be able to be filled, people would be naive to think that they can’t feel them because there’s only going to be one Buck O’Neil and one Bob Kendrick. But seeing the museum in a way now where generationally I have the opportunity to learn but also spread that message even further. It’s been such a such an honor. But also it’s been to your point. So on Sunday, so unexpected, in such such a thing that I didn’t see coming. But it’s been such a learning experience for me. And you mentioned, I’m probably now more more ballparks. Who would have thought, you know, and more baseball people, which is you included, you know, I’m grateful for folks like you in my life because you guys give me a different perspective and hope in terms of, of what what this role really is and also how you can still be yourself and still be true to what you love. So yeah, this job was not planned. I tell everybody that it was not something that I was banking on when the world was shattering, but God had plans. And here I am.
Joel Goldberg 12:31
That’s beautiful. Just the way things can sometimes work out and a path that you could have never envisioned just because I don’t think you knew it existed like this. And it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. And I mean that not even personally knowing where it’s going, obviously. I mean, I don’t know the crystal ball. But I mean, like it could this thing turn into so much. And I think that’s the spirit of the Negro Leagues too. I mean, I don’t think that’s a reach when I say that. I have thought about this a lot. Because you mentioned Bob Kendrick, anybody that’s listening. I want to say season two of this podcast way back. He was a guest. He’s also been I tell people this a lot that there has not been a more frequent guests on our Royals live pregame show in my 15 years than Bob Kendrick, certainly not a a non-player guest. And it’s one thing you know, to have somebody that’s been around a long time, Salvador Perez over and over again. But no, noone out of uniform has been on our show more than Bob and I would suggest that it’s still never enough. Because he is the greatest storyteller that I’ve ever met. I fancy myself as a storyteller. I think you do too. And I never, like you, I never met Buck O’Neil, yet I feel like I know Buck O’Neil, you feel him in you. I think it’s a different experience for you, as someone that works at the museum and someone that is African American, but I very much feel him on a regular basis feel like I knew him. And I think in part that is, I believe, because of Bob Kendrick. So I think that when you say there’s no replacing Buck, there’s no replacing Bob. I’m sure Bob felt the same way. There’s no replacing Buck and he would say and everyone would say, well, he never did replace but yet he became an extension of him. And I’m not saying that you’re that extension to Bob yet. You’re pretty much attached in his hip on many days. And I wonder, you know, I just I wonder if you sometimes think this is what it must have felt like for Bob to be with Buck because he was oftentimes that guy that just had the front row seat.
Kiona Sinks 14:44
it’s crazy. I mean, I don’t really think people my age really are grasping what is happening currently for Kansas City, civically, locally, nationally. This transcends like you said, this is probably one of the biggest years To date for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in museum recent history, this is our Super Bowl. It doesn’t get any bigger than this, than our late Chairman Buck O’Neal who dedicated the last 16, 15 or 16 years of his life to ensure that the Negro Leagues Baseball museum would reside here in historic 18th and Vine. And, and as Bob eloquently says, you know, no disrespect to so many other people who had a hand in making sure that the museum would stand the test of time, but we all know for certain that it would not have happened without the wishes of Buck O’Neil. And just to see now, as the stories that Bob has told for three decades, or a little bit, probably longer, you know, in these oral histories and even as his voice nationally, it because it’s the same stories that you’ve been fortunate, like you said, to hear our pregame live, and all these different, these different avenues. But now this story is really capsulated and growing in a way that I can’t even keep track of and how to really contain it, and which is such a great problem to have for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. But to your point, now, you hear a lot of the stories that Bob has shared with Buck, and moments and to see now for me to be able to say like, oh, okay, we go to the ballpark, he’s getting stopped every every turn, it was the same way with but everybody wanted to take pictures, they wanted to share, you know, hey, we thank you for everything that you’ve done. And in a lot of way, that’s, that’s chilling, I mean, to think that, you know, at some point, Bob and Buck we’re walking through the turnstiles of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum together and standing in some of our exhibits and sharing those moments together. And, you know, you think of what if Bob wasn’t the chosen one, and or the timing didn’t align, or he wasn’t able to secure, you know, but to learn these stories, and to really resonate with being able to encapsulate the spirit and humility that Buck, you know, represent it, where would this museum be? So it is definitely not lost on me that some of these things are just by happenstance, but also it’s, you know, it’s part of my job. But then again, too, it’s like, this is such a, a moment in time that I, I can’t make this up. And it’s hard to articulate, but I’m just grateful to be a small part of our success.
Joel Goldberg 17:29
I was talking yesterday, the day before, we were recording this with legendary, I’ll call him legendary future Hall of Fame manager, Dusty Baker. I mean, if you just start looking at, at the length of his career, and the people he’s come in contact with, his 25th year of managing Major League Baseball, you’re barely on this earth when he was starting. And that that followed a very, very long, Major League Baseball playing career that began when he was 19. And it was the likes of the Hank Aaron’s showing him the world, not just in terms of how to play baseball, but how to live in a world with with with major racial issues, and a lack of safety. You know, he was telling me yesterday, the reason why so many of those black players would always congregate is because they needed to know where they could go, where they could be safe, where they will be okay. And so they were taking care of each other and showing each other the way. But he said something to me, he said, you know, he kind of feels like I’m paraphrasing, he feels like, you know, he’s sort of that segue to the past. He’s that segue to the the era of Hank Aaron, and before that Jackie Robinson and so, you know, that’s what Bob Kendrick has become. And, and I think that you are part of that in a couple of ways. One, what I just mentioned that you’re riding along shotgun, and you get to see it all in a way that nobody does, and be involved in it, and be working with it every single day. But I also think there’s something because you know, the more time passes, the further distance there is, so your generation wouldn’t have as good of a feel is my generation, my generation didn’t have a great feel. And so I feel like there’s this responsibility. I’m wondering if you feel the same way, you’re very influential in the in the world of the 20 Somethings and 30 Somethings, and I’m sure that they’re all looking at you, like, look at this job she has. This is so cool. Everybody knows you worked hard for it, you’ve earned it. But do you feel a responsibility to help make sure that your generation is understanding this the same way that past generations did?
Kiona Sinks 19:40
Yes, I feel a huge responsibility. And I think that’s the that’s the scary part because you do understand that outside of the baseball and the cool stuff that’s on the wall. The things that people get to see when I visited museum, you know, civil rights and at a time were black and white. People weren’t afforded the opportunity to, you know, come together or, you know, having the same access to freedom. You know, that came at a cost. And the Negro Leagues were at the hem of that, really through a game called baseball. And so when we strip all that away, you know, and to think Kansas City, right, the city that we all love was today is the city that Buck O’Neil did not know, he was he showed us love. He gave us so much at a time where he didn’t get a lot back. You know, you think about, you know, you mentioned when we were talking earlier, first black coach ever in Major League Baseball history. I mean, couldn’t take the field, I mean, just all these things that even though he was such a groundbreaker within his own right, how even in the same country and the things that he fought for, he didn’t get to experience a lot of what he gave. So yeah, I feel a tremendous responsibility. You know, when I have friends that come here, or people that, you know, unfortunate to me, or you see, because you do understand, even to your point, with, you know, future Hall of Famer, Dusty Baker, he came to the museum when they play the Royals, and we’re fortunate to have him visit. And just their presence, you could tell like, he’s that bridge to the past time, but they carry that. So there’s a sense of pride, there’s a sense of, this is who I am, this is where I’m from. And those athletes and his players, you could tell that they they kind of stood up a little bit straighter, you know, inside the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, because that’s how much it means to him for for, for the understanding and education value that he wants to ensure that they understand. And so yeah, I feel a heavy burden. But it’s one that I think over time, you really start to find your own voice. And you start to really feel comfortable in a way that you communicate that to other people. And I’ve had, and I’ve had an opportunity to do that. And still growing in that space. But it definitely is something that I don’t take lightly.
Joel Goldberg 22:01
For those that don’t know, I think most people do even though this isn’t a baseball podcast, but if you don’t know just just Google Buck O’Neil. Start start reading anything that’s out there. And you’ll be amazed. I think most people know and I think a lot of people in this country fell in love with Buck O’Neil when they they saw him heavily featured in in Ken Burns baseball documentary, which is which is one of the great documentaries and while pretty much anything Ken Burns does is one of the great documentaries. But I think that one, you know really put him on the map and this country’s love for baseball, but really chronicled that time so perfectly. So Buck O’Neil is as you just mentioned, he was the first black coach, a legendary Scout, one of the greatest ambassadors, not just for black baseball, Negro Leagues Baseball, but just for the game of baseball, a man that truly, whose positivity and promoting through just his heart, his storytelling, his experience as a former player, and manager himself in the Negro Leagues in the Negro Leagues, but this is a huge deal. He should have been in the first time it was pulled out, he was alive. I know that anyone that was there, felt like he was totally, you know, certainly under appreciated, and that this was a complete injustice that one of the great figures in the history of the game was kept out of the Hall of Fame. And of course, he passes away. And probably everybody feeling sorry, except for him, because that was his positivity. You weren’t there for that moment. I wasn’t either. But you were there. This past baseball offseason, at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, when the announcement was made, that he was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of special committee, there weren’t that many spots. It felt like it was gonna happen. But because of what had happened in the past, everybody was holding their breath. Yeah, tell me about that. And, and that officially began the mad dash to to get the museum ready for Buck O’Neil going in? I mean, this is your guys event, essentially. This is your induction.
Kiona Sinks 24:13
Yeah, where do I begin? Because I remember, you know, October, or September of last year when Bob was reading, you know, the individuals who potentially would be on the ballot for consideration and he just literally said he was reading so fast that he just skipped the part about but like he, because he just didn’t think it was gonna ever happen. I mean, he says it in his own way that, you know, he hasn’t been back to The Hall outside of recently since ’08, you know, when they unveiled the statue of Buck, didn’t get in. I got no reason to go back. And now to really see since December 5. I’m kind of the museum’s staff our entire team here from everybody’s worlds just kind of been rocked since December 5 has been an interesting, great problem to have. But I remember vaguely even standing by you during the watch party that we had at the museum last winter. And I remember two weeks prior to that, in our staff meeting, we were not going to have a watch party because we didn’t want to relive what happened 15 years ago, at the museum when Buck was with us, and we had over 300 people similar to the same setup that we just experienced in December of last year. And it was gut wrenching for Bob. And it was like, Okay, do we really relive this potential outcome again? Or do we, you know, do it in a way where if it does turn in our favor, we have people to high five and chest bump and celebrate. And thank God that it ended in the way that we want it to, because we were able to be surrounded amongst people like yourself, and supporters of museum and friends, but it was, it was truly special. I remember standing by you for like, two seconds shivering and walking around. And I just could not like I just was not focused. It’s like, so when the event started, and I just blacked out. As as you know, Josh, the President, the National Baseball Hall of Famer reading the bios, and just nervously waiting, you know, to see if Buck was going to, you know, be get to get in, if he was going to, his name was going to be announced. And, man, what a wait, you know, people ask me how I felt, you know, I can only imagine how Bob felt, I mean, somebody who’s dedicated his entire life, essentially, since Buck has left us to ensure that this man’s legacy will live on forever, but also having this opportunity to share with him. So I still don’t know what to say, I don’t think I’ll even have the appropriate words until January of 2023. When we’re past the Buck O’Neil Hall of Fame Gala for Kansas City. And you and I are decked out in black tie black dress. I mean, it’s just it’s just such a lifetime, a life altering moment for this museum. And so it’s been a lot of moving parts, which you’re a part of those moving parts, as well as we prepare for Cooperstown. And the next two to three weeks, which is hard to even utter that out of my mouth, because it’s just crazy. So yeah, so so a lot going on.
Joel Goldberg 27:20
Yeah, it’s finally here. And I think I’m assuming it’s your first time going Cooperstown but I mean, I make that joke, because you’re still newer to baseball. But it’s my first time too, it’s always a dream of mine. To go on, I figured out I would go at some point. And it’s still the plan to go take my son. I didn’t, I wanted to be able to do it, you know, when he was old enough to appreciate it or just go on my own or, or go to my wife because I want to, you know, I want to be able to spend days just exploring an issue that won’t happen for this. But I’m so fortunate to be able to get to go do some work with you guys as well do some work for for the television network and miss some games because I felt like, like being there was more important than whatever games were going on. Understanding that what we were doing would be an extension of the games, or vice versa. So tell me about just loosely the the chaos, the excitement, the plans of that weekend, because this is different than anybody else. I mean, this is someone that is is no longer alive, obviously. And, and probably much of his family is gone too. I’m sure there’s some maybe you can fill me in on that. But this is really, this is a you know, like, Hey, here’s Derek Jeter going into the Hall of Fame. And where’s Derek’s people? I mean, like, this is the museum. This is this is you guys. So what, what are the plans for that weekend? Because I know that there’s a lot and I know that because of but a lot of really important people will be there too.
Kiona Sinks 28:49
Yeah, for sure. First and foremost is thanks to Mr. John Sherman over with the Kansas City Royals. I mean, the way that he since he’s, you know, bought the team and how he’s embraced, you know, the museum and has made a pledge very publicly that this is such a very important asset here in our city. And they will do all they can to ensure that the museum will be supported in every avenue. And so he’s, you know, said buck is one of our own, and so we will treat it as such. And so, as we’ve been preparing and moving forward, as you mentioned, a lot of people will be gathered in Cooperstown with the normal festivities traditionally that they offer throughout the National Baseball Hall of Fame weekend. But the museum will host our own event, Saturday, July 23. That will focus more on Buck’s legacy and then also to having the other two Negro Leaguers being inducted in both Fowler and Miyamoto. So as well to celebrate their achievements and contributions to the Negro Leagues, but also just really, you know, honing in on all these, as you said baseball celebrities that will really be paying tribute to Buck. But what a day that will be. But also, as Bob says, you know, we won’t be able to high five and chest bump our guy. And you know, just yesterday, I was listening to Bob. And somebody asked him, What do you think? What do you think Buck would have said, If he was here with us today. And he said, you know, Buck would have been proud, it’d be happy to be over the moon and be excited. And you know, it’s still it’s such a big accomplishment, you know, still just because it didn’t happen in 06 and then happen now, it still holds the same value, because that’s what he would have ultimately wanted was to use his induction to support the museum in which he dedicated his life to preserving it’s so we know there’s a lot of celebration. Also, Joel that comes with this moment, but we got to raise some money for this museum. So we’ll be paralleling the launch of our big campaign called Thanks A Million Buck when we come back from Cooperstown. We’ll have a huge press conference here at the museum, July 28. That will gather city leaders from all across the city, and will start engaging about the campaign and what those plans are. And the museum will carry a Hall of Fame logo for Buck O’Neil and exclusive merchandise. And we’ll talk a little bit about the gala. So there’s just so much that not only Cooperstown, right, which is just such a such a huge part. But it’s such a small fraction, because it just doesn’t stop when we leave Cooperstown that’s really the beginning of the museum’s remaining 2022. In terms of Hall of Fame festivities that we hope not only nationally, people will support us, but also locally because Buck’s our guy, you know? It doesn’t happen without Kansas City, in terms of the Negro Leagues, and the founding of such history, but also with Buck’s, you know, life and his contributions, and everything that he gave to this community. You know, you want to make sure we show up in this moment. So I I’ve been the backdrop, I’ve been telling people that you know, you only get one Buck O’Neil Hall of Fame here. And once it’s gone, it’s gone. So show up, come out support and be a part of what we got going on. But I’d be lying to you. But I’d say it’s been a it’s been stressful in a good way. But you know, these are just such unique situations. And to your point, you know, he’s not, he’s not really here to experience that with us. So it is a little different. And so very, you know, some sentimentality, you know, across our staff who’s been very fortunate to meet Buck and work with Buck, because they’ve been here for much longer than I have. I’m listening to a lot of stories in reminiscing on times when Buck was here, and some of the stories I’m sure you would love to be a fly on the wall and have that as a podcast to but you know, just listening to their thoughts. Because a lot of people see Bob, and then they see me, you know, I’m still new to this. But you know, our staff who who deliver the who really sacrificed a lot to keep this museum running every day. And they’re a part of our story as well. And so just seeing it from everybody’s different perspective has been very unique as we prepare for the museum to be probably one of the most busiest places in the city on July 24.
Joel Goldberg 33:17
Oh, it’s about to get crazy over at the museum, huh?
Kiona Sinks 33:20
It’s about to get crazy. So we’ve, our president has said buckle up, get ready to rock and roll. Because, you know, this is such a unique moment. And I think, you know, for me, Joel, personally, it’s just such a man just just I don’t really know how to really articulate this for us. But I just know one thing I just keep telling Bob is, you know, this is our year, you know, everything that we that we ever wanted, and that we ever could dream of. And the sacrifices that so many people who supported this museum is still do. This is our year, it doesn’t get any sweeter than this. And so there’ll be more champagne pop in and then in Cooperstown not to leave this out, but you’ll join us and you’ll moderate an All Stars Team Panel. And it’s going to be amazing in every way as we still try to pull together details for that but just just all the media you know that will be surrounding you know this moment in time and could only imagine if Buck was with us because it’d be even crazier. But just all these little integral parts so my role is very small because I will not be in front of the camera. But all of the pieces in terms of planning and making sure this day is just as special as it can be. That has been probably since December 5. My day to day in a lot of different areas in terms of making sure that the museum capitalize on this and Cooperstown as much as possible but also coming back off the plane in the when we land in Kansas City. We got got about three days to prepare for probably one of the most significant press conferences in league or at least baseball museum history. So there’s a lot of moving parts, but it’s a lot of exciting things that we’ll share publicly. And I know we’ve talked about that, personally, what this means to you and what this means to so many other people who love the museum. But yeah, what a year.
Joel Goldberg 35:21
Go, Buck. All right, three baseball themed questions before we wrap things up. First off for you, you’ve had a lot going on, as we’ve said, in and out of baseball, and I don’t even know where you’re going with this answer. What’s the biggest homerun that you have hit?
Kiona Sinks 35:37
Okay, gosh, finishing that master’s. You know, I feel like a lot of people really didn’t realize as Buck was going into the hall. And when I was stressing personally, and professionally, I was still in the thick of trying to finish a, an MBA, of all things, which I don’t ever recommend to anybody. That’s not what I planned. But that’s just how the chips fall. I took a job, and then all of a sudden Bucks up for induction, and the museums one of the most busiest places in Kansas City. And I thought, I think my professors all thought I was crazy, because they would see me and say, Okay, did you get any sleep? Or did you need some extra time on this assignment, and I would just show up. So that’s the biggest home run that I’ve hit. And I’m just so thankful to be finished, and just another feather in the cap.
Joel Goldberg 36:25
All right, I was hoping you would go there, but I didn’t know. How about a swing and a miss. And what did you learned from it?
Kiona Sinks 36:31
Swing in the Miss. Just, you know, lately, I think we’ve talked about this a lot, having grace, slowing down, you know, that’s been a hit in the miss for me. And in this moment in time, showing more compassion, forgiving, because it’s easy to carry grudges, it’s easy to, you know, and everything that we’ve experienced since 2020 is hard, you know, as being a black woman, and, you know, there are so many, you know, rightfully so, right to be, you know, angry and bitter and all of the things but really having you know, I think the racially the cross friendships, and really having people to talk things through and really just seeing the good in people. So you know, that that learning curve for me, has been a hit and miss it’s been it’s been going much better for me because you’re able to also be renewed and with doing that and going through that process, you’re also able to be your best self and build a better you and so that’s been such a great learning curve for me and learning experience and nobody’s perfect, but still working through that. But man have i I’ve come a long way and I’m so I got it, I got pat myself on the back for that.
Joel Goldberg 37:48
That’s a swing, a miss, a learn and eventually, a big hit and one that that’ll continue to serve you well. Last one small ball, the little things that add up to big results. I was so honored and you know, just felt privileged to be able to write one chapter in my book, Small Ball Big Results about the museum and about Bob and the history of the Negro Leagues and the resilience, which we saw so much during the pandemic a time that that lives were lost a time that jobs were lost as a time that lives were changed. And yet I saw a lot of growth from a lot of different people in an organization’s and the museum just persevered in the spirit of those great Negro Leagues ballplayers by doing a lot of little things, right? What a small ball to you.
Kiona Sinks 38:37
Man, I think you touched on it just for me day to day now. It’s all of the little small things that that are not seen on the on the larger stage that really count that I’ve learned with the museum and how it really contributes to our success amongst our staff. So from setting up for an event, making sure the mic works to, you know, welcoming people inside our turnstiles here at the museum, the visitor experience taking care of, you know, ticket sales, and just all these different things and how it really allows the greater good for our institutions that thrive. Those are, those are the small, important parts that lead up to big to big things and big plays for big moments, and no pun intended. It’s been really cool to see how being on the other side of it, how our organization success on the small on smaller in really contributes to December 5 moment where we’re basking in that glow and celebrating and drinking champagne. But there was a lot of work that went into that. So just really, yeah, learning how to take care of small things because those things add up for big plays and big moments.
Joel Goldberg 39:55
Well, the announcement came December 5, the induction will be happening in Jul. And then of course, as you said, it never stops. It’s on to the next thing and fundraising and supporting this museum. That growth is incredible. But it never stops. Because I know there’s always that fear, you stop and it can go away because that has happened or nearly happened in the past. And so it’s full steam ahead. It always is. It always will be with with Bob at the helm with you and so many others by his side, and I’m so excited for the Hall of Fame induction if people are listening to this afterwards. I still think there’s so much here in this podcast and my hope is to be able to with all of those, with all those dignitaries with all this hall of famers with all those important people that are going to be in Cooperstown. My hope is to get a little moment with so many of them, you know, one here one there and be able to share that on the podcast as well. Because it’s it’s truly going to be an amazing thing. A couple of notes to pass on if you’re interested in the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and I tell people all the time, if you’ve been there already, you know that it’s a place you want to go back. I have never heard anybody say otherwise. But if you have never been there, just go down there. If you love baseball, you’ll love it. If you don’t love baseball, you’ll love it. I tell everyone it is not a baseball Museum. It is an American History Museum. And if you’re worried that it’s a heavy topic, it is heavy. It is emotional being there. But it’s a good emotional, at least to me. It’s an important emotional, so I just encourage everybody to go. The website is NLBM.com. You can find it on all over social too. If you want to follow her. She’s, she’s got that good brand going, and all that fun stuff. Kiana will continue with for quick for final questions on YouTube. But congratulations to everyone at the museum. To everyone involved, which is well beyond the museum, well beyond Kansas City, this is going to be so meaningful for so many people. And then if anybody’s interested in what’s going on with the museum, because there are always events and great merchandise to just go to the website NLBM.com Because whatever we talk about now, if you’re listening to it later and a specific event is over, there’ll be something that there’s always something next so Kiona, thank you, congrats, I appreciate you doing this.
Kiona Sinks 42:26
Thank you so much Joel, we really appreciate you. Hope you know that you always got a place here at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and obviously personally you know, big brother and just all those great things and anytime I can round the bases with you, always a great day.
Joel Goldberg 42:41
Well we’ll go around the bases on on YouTube so hope everybody will check that out. And I’m proud of you you know that proud to call you my little sister. Thanks for doing the interview. Awesome.