Jackson County declares George Toma Day April 19, 2019
Friday, April 19 - Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr declared it was “George Toma Day” in Jackson County in tribute to the legendary groundskeeper at the Truman Sports Complex, and before it, at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City. The ceremony was held at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, with friends, family, and longtime fans in attendance.
Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum welcomed the event, telling the audience that “I could not think of a better place to honor this legendary Kansas City icon than right here at historic 18th and Vine, an area he knows as intimately as anyone with all the years he worked in this neighborhood, and to hear his stories…of how important the kids in this neighborhood were to who he became.”
George Toma noted that many of his crew at the stadiums came from the neighborhoods around Municipal Stadium at 22nd St. and Brooklyn Avenue. When the teams were operating on a shoestring, it was their hard work that made enjoying sports possible in Kansas City.
Toma praised his crew, telling the crowd. “It’s these young people, from this neighborhood, that made George Toma. That’s why they made Kansas City famous. They did the job, and then some. The ‘and then some’ that these people did, distinguished the mediocre from the great. And that’s why we have a great (sports) complex.”
County Executive White remembered that Toma had allowed him and his friends to sneak in to Municipal and see games past the seventh inning when he was a student at Lincoln High School, putting the future All-Star Royal on a path that would lead to a historic baseball career. White also thanked Toma for recruiting youth from the urban core to work with him, noting that some of the people working at Truman Sports Complex today are descended from members of George Toma’s crew.
The 90 year-old Toma spoke for nearly an hour, reminiscing about his long career and what his role was in Kansas City sports history. “Like I say, the cheapest insurance for an athlete is a safe playing field…number two, you try to give the fans in the stands, and the fans on TV, a field of beauty. Number three, you try to do it without taking too much money out of the owner’s coffers.”
County Executive White presented Toma with a formal proclamation of April 19, 2019 as “George Toma Day” in Jackson County, Missouri. The County thanks George Toma, family and friends in attendance, and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum for participating in this special honor to an icon of Kansas City sports history.
(L-R: Former Royals player Tom Burgmeier, Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr., George Toma, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick)
(2nd from left: Jackson County Legislature Chair Theresa Galvin attended the ceremony to honor Mr. Toma)