May 15, 2004

May 15, 2004

Researcher sues Negro Leagues museum over missing tapes

Via newswire

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Virginia researcher's claim that the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum lost about 60 irreplaceable recordings of interviews with star players has landed in federal court in Kansas City.

But museum officials say they have found no proof the tapes ever made it to the Kansas City museum.

John B. Holway of Springfield, Va., said he gave the tapes to the museum in 1993 to be used by scholars. He said they've vanished, and wants the museum to pay him $750,000 in damages.

Holway filed suit last year in Virginia, but a judge said the court there had no jurisdiction over the Missouri museum and ordered the case transferred to federal court in Kansas City, where it landed Thursday.

In the lawsuit, Holway says the tapes were made from interviews he conducted between 1969 and 1985. The lawsuit says the tapes included firsthand stories by Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, Buck Leonard and other legends of the Negro Baseball Leagues.

According to the lawsuit, the tapes are unique and "have never been duplicated by any other researchers, and cannot now be duplicated since the players are deceased."

Tom Busch, an attorney for the museum, said officials have searched thoroughly "and all of our records would indicate that these things were never received."

Busch said the museum's records might not be complete because the research director at the time is no longer with the museum.

"And it's his records we're relying on," Busch said.

Holway published a collection of interviews with Negro League stars in 1976. He also is author of "The Complete Book of the Negro Leagues: The Other Half of Baseball History," and is a former member of the museum's advisory board and board of governors.

He followed the 1976 book - "Voices From the Great Black Baseball Leagues" - with the books "Black Diamonds" and "Blackball Stars."