Every Lou Gehrig fan needs to memorize the following location: East 22nd Street
and Brooklyn Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri. Gehrig played baseball here on June 12, 1939 -- playing baseball for the very
last time. To fully appreciate Gehrig's last game, its important to understand the situation and the rich history of the field
he played on. As with Gehrig, the field was important in baseball history, but was eventually overshadowed.
This field in discussion is most widely recognized the now-deceased Municipal
Stadium, a desegregated playground of the Negro Leagues' Monarchs, the minor leagues' Blues, major league's Royals, and the
Chiefs football team. Opened in 1923 as a simple, one-level-grandstand baseball park, it was first christened with the name
Muehlebach Field after the builder. Between then and its demolition, it had one major remodeling sabbatical, a few name changes,
and many historical moments.
Between 1937 and 1943 the field went by the name Ruppert Stadium after the Yankees'
owner (Gehrigs check signer) Colonel Jacob Ruppert. Ruppert had farmed some of his most promising prospects out with the Blues,
as the Kansas City team was known at that time. With Ruppert's death in 1943, the stadium was re-named to Blues Stadium. The
Yankee farming continued. Big shots such as Mantle, Berra, and Maris played in Kansas City.
For many years, Blues Stadium was the place to be to watch not only future MLB
stars, but also the legends of the Negro Leagues thanks to the pinnacle team the Monarchs. God-in-man forms like Satchel Paige,
Jackie Robinson, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, and Buck O'Neil all stamped the dirt in Kansas City's stadium until the league
ceased in 1955. It was at this point that the stadium was given its most widely recognized name, Municipal.
Municipal was also the place to be for non-sports events; the Beatles played a
show in Municipal Stadium in 1964.
But back to those eager Gehrig fans reading this. For you Municipal Stadium had
one of the biggest heart tugs of Gehrigs life -- his last appearance in a Yankee lineup. Contrary to the record books, the
last game didn't happen in Yankee Stadium. It happened in a comparatively small stadium with very little aesthetic appeal
smack dab in the heart of the country.
Gehrig and the rest of the '39 Yankees stopped by Kansas City on June 12 to play
against their farm hands, the Blues, in an exhibition game. Gehrig played that afternoon game, headed to the Mayo Clinic for
testing the next day, was diagnosed with ALS 6 days later, and never played baseball again.
The record books don't count this game, as it was only exhibition. Even the Baseball
Hall of Fame contends that his last game was April 30 against the Senators at Yankee Stadium. Regardless, the thing that should
matter most is that he was playing baseball for the last time. And he was playing on ground doomed to be teetering on obscurity.
For all the history within its walls, Municipal Stadium lasted only until 1975,
when it was torn down by the city to re-route fans to the modern, multimillion-dollar Truman Sports Complex on the east side
Today all that remains of Municipal Stadium is the plot of land, which, save for
a community garden in one section, is mostly overrun with sunflowers and weeds. On the very southeast tip of the plot is a
mini memorial park of sorts. Mother Natures tangles are separated from the "park" by a rusty chain link fence. On the spot
where an entrance to the stadium used to be, the park consists of a manicured yard with small trees and two tidy benches flanking
the actual memorial which is quite reminiscent of an architects desk.