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Springfield native, who grew up in the era of desegregation, is remembered for his role in Black baseball

In the 1940s, Herman “Doc” Horn went on to play professional baseball for the Kansas City Monarchs. With the majors desegregated, he might have followed in Jackie Robinson's footsteps, but his duty to his country changed that path.

In 2025, the Springfield Cardinals will celebrate their 20th anniversary as a minor league team. The area has a rich history tied to baseball, with games being documented dating back to the late 1860s.

During the 1940s, before the desegregation of Major League Baseball, the Kansas City Monarchs were the dominant professional Black team of the Negro Leagues. With players such as Satchel Paige, Buck O’Neil, Ernie Banks and Jackie Robinson, they maintained a successful winning club. The Monarchs barnstormed nationwide and played numerous semi-pro teams, including those in the Ozarks. At that time, Springfield was home to the Hyde Park All-Stars or Stars, the foremost talented African American team in town, and they played the Monarchs.

Rusty Aton, the author of the book, Baseball in Springfield, said in the mid-40s, the Stars came to fruition with popularity and talent.

“They were the predominant, the strongest team with the best players,” said Aton. “I think the fact they had -- quasi their own field there at Silver Springs Park, and it was a decent full-size baseball field, a whole lot different than what you see there now, which is just basically a Little League field. That helped them, and they had the opportunity of travel because there [were] teams that wanted them to come play them.”

A Monarch visit allowed southwest Missouri communities to experience high-level professional baseball. Bob Kendrick, president of Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, said the Monarchs recruited players from towns like Springfield.

“Well, it was an opportunity for those areas to be touched by Black baseball and professional baseball,” Kendrick said. “And so almost every community had a baseball team, and more times than not, they all had African American baseball teams as well, and those teams were often times feeder systems for those teams in the Negro Leagues. So a lot of those players would ultimately end up coming into the Negro Leagues, and so that local town baseball was very important, but it also gave people there an opportunity to see the Kansas City Monarchs. And the Kansas City Monarchs were one of the great barnstorming teams.”

The Hyde Park Stars recruited some of the best players from the Springfield area, including Herman “Doc” Horn, who was a standout. He started playing for the Stars in 1942 at the young age of 15. While playing against them, the Monarchs noticed “Doc” and invited him to join their team. “They drew from a pretty core of solid baseball players,” said Aton. “Doc Horn was arguably the best of the team -- well respected and competitive.”

By 1949, Horn was playing for the Kansas City Monarchs and continued playing until he was called to military service in 1954. Herman Horn returned to Missouri from serving his country and retired to Kansas City. He was a founding member of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and Bob Kendrick got to know him.

“Clearly, he was very proud of his Springfield background, playing for the Hyde Park All-Stars and ultimately making to the Negro Leagues, making it to the show, where he spent some time with the Kansas City Monarchs as an outfielder," said Kendrick. "Good outfielder. Good arm. Had some line-drive power and certainly was one of those who was very proud of his role in Black baseball.”

The fact that a Springfield resident, Herman “Doc” Horn, decided to join a professional sports club as a teenager solidified his mark in baseball history. Kendrick explains the importance of his contributions, “It is American history and the story of the Negro Leagues, in particular, and those players who courageously overcame tremendous social adversity to play the game that they love. This is an American success story, even though it is anchored against the ugliness of American segregation, which certainly was a horrible chapter in this country’s history. But the real story of the Negro Leagues doesn’t dwell on the adversity that they faced; it focuses on how they overcame that adversity.”