August 2, 2023
When I talk to my family about the genealogy research I am doing, I tend to see eyes glazing over. However, recently I told my husband about my research involving his grandmother, who played on a district-championship-winning high school basketball team. That got his attention! You see, he’s a sports guy, and any way I can coerce him into talking genealogy with me, I’ll do it!
How do we find these sporting ancestors? It’s not always easy since most of us don’t have famous professional athletes in our family tree. I found the information on my husband’s grandmother in the newspaper. I was also able to partially prove a sports story from my own family. Supposedly, my great-grandfather played minor league baseball and personally knew Tris Speaker. I have no proof that he knew Tris Speaker; however, I have found newspaper clippings showing that my great-grandfather was a player/manager of an amateur baseball team in 1914.
At Midwest Genealogy Center, we have access to multiple newspaper databases, including Access NewspaperARCHIVE, Kansas City Star, Newspapers.com Library Edition, and more. We also have newspapers on microfilm. Once you have done the initial research to put your ancestor in a time and place, you can start researching newspapers. You never know what you will find!
Another resource for this research is yearbooks. Ancestry Library Edition has a large online collection, and at MGC we have an extensive physical collection. For this type of research, however, our physical collection extends beyond yearbooks. We have books about baseball, basketball, golf, and more! Maybe you will find your ancestor’s name in The Kansas City Golf Record Book. We welcome you to stop by and check out our collection!
Additionally, here are some online resources to check out if you have an ancestor who cracked into minor or major league baseball:
- Ancestry Library Edition offers three databases: U.S., Baseball Questionnaires, 1945-2005, U.S., Professional Baseball Player Photos and Illustrations, 1876-2004, and U.S., Professional Baseball Player Profiles, 1876-2004.
- Baseball Reference contains historical and present day major and minor league baseball statistics, player profiles, and box scores. Toggle between tabs at the top to see stats from other sports such as basketball, football, soccer, and hockey.
- The National Baseball Hall of Fame has digital collections and online exhibits available. If you are interested in more in depth research, check out the Giamatti Research Center.
- Available right in our own backyard is the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. They offer an eMuseum full of resources as well as the Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center.
Finding your ancestors’ sporting stories adds a splash of color to genealogy research. It may even help you to lure reluctant family members and friends into talking genealogy shop with you!
Midwest Genealogy Center