Honors College Student Published in Black Ball Journal

Meet Honors College student Tyler Evans! His research on baseball pioneer Buck O’Neill was recently published in Black Ball Vol. 9, a peer-reviewed journal exploring the history of Negro Leagues Baseball. Learn more about his work below.

  1. What is your year and major?

    I’m a junior majoring in business administration with an emphasis in marketing. I’m also pursuing a minor in statistics.

  2. How long have you been a part of UMKC Honors College?

    Since my freshman year – Fall 2015.

  3. How did Dr. Wood’s class inspire you to write this article?

    The assignment of “Honors 215: Researching Kansas City” was to pursue a research project about a topic in Kansas City we found to be interesting. I am a lifelong baseball fan and wanted to learn more about Negro Leagues Baseball, a league of African American and Black Caribbean ballplayers who were excluded from Major League Baseball (MLB) because of segregation. In my opinion, Kansas City is a focal point of Negro Leagues Baseball research as Kansas City is the current home of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. In addition, the Kansas City Monarchs were the longest existing Negro Leagues team, as the played approximately 35 years. Specifically, I wanted to focus on Monarchs’ first baseman and prominent Kansas Citian, Buck O’Neil. I admired Buck O’Neil because of his eternal optimism.

    I wanted to learn about the roots of O’Neil’s benevolent character and raise awareness of what he has done for the Kansas City community and the game of baseball. Though O’Neil was born in Florida, he loved Kansas City and considered this community to be his home. Therefore, there were a lot of resources at my disposal to write an interesting research paper about O’Neil and Negro Leagues Baseball. For example, I had the opportunity to interview O’Neil’s longtime friend and current director of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Bob Kendrick. I also had the opportunity to interview another friend of O’Neil and prominent sports journalist, Joe Posnanski.

    At first, I thought interviewing O’Neil and Posnanski was a pipe dream, but Dr. Wood encouraged me to shoot for the stars and request to interview them. I was apprehensive, thinking they would not want to be bothered by a college student, but Dr. Wood answered, “Ask them. Why not? The worst thing that could happen is they say, ‘No’”. This journalistic determination drove me to succeed in attaining interviews from Kendrick and Posnanski along with other primary sources.

    In addition, Dr. Wood inspired us to think beyond the goal of getting a specific grade. The goal of Honors 215 was not to complete the paper in order to attain an ‘A,’ but to write an excellent research paper in order to receive the accolade of publishing it in a journal, which was another factor that made me passionate about the class and project.

  4. This is a huge accomplishment; how did the Honors College help you achieve this goal?

    The Honors College helped me achieve this goal by offering this interesting course (Honors 215), allowing me to work with Dr. Wood, who drastically improved my writing skills. Also, interacting and receiving feedback from honors students in the class was helpful and improved my article. My peers could empathize with my struggles throughout the research process (as they faced similar obstacles) and would help me move further in my research, such as brainstorming ideas when I was struggling to form a thesis statement, helping me overcome writer’s block, and suggesting how I could express my thoughts more concisely.

  5. Now that your article is published, do you have any upcoming projects?

    In Dr. Wood’s Discourse III class, I wrote a research paper about the Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA), which is a multifaceted coalition that strives to reduce gun violence in Kansas City. KC NoVA consists of the police department, city hall, prosecutor’s office, and other public and private organizations who have united to make Kansas City a safer community. KC NoVA uses a unique policing strategy that analyzes networks of people involved in gun violence, identifies who is at the core of this activity, and attempts to persuade these people to stop committing violence. I find KC NoVA to be an interesting initiative because it attempts to forge a stronger connection between the police department and the community. In addition, one of KC NoVA’s goals is to offer those affected by gun violence every opportunity to leave this situation by helping them attain employment, providing counseling, and even offering housing away from the violence. I enjoyed this project as I was able to interview police officers, social workers, prosecutors, and criminal justice professors associated with KC NoVA. I plan to submit this research article to Lucerna.

  6. What advice would you give to a student looking to publish research?

    Never give up and never belittle yourself or your work. Don’t be afraid to ask for interviews or help with your research because as Dr. Wood said to me, “The worst thing they can say is ‘No’”. Keep digging for answers to seemingly impossible questions. After you complete your research, do not belittle your work, thinking that it will be rejected – submit it! Again, the worst thing they can say is, “No,” and even if it is rejected the editors will provide feedback of how you can improve your paper. Also, I would recommend taking courses with Dr. Wood. She is an excellent professor that pushes her students to produce their best work. I have developed substantially as a writer because of Dr. Wood and would not have achieved publication without her guidance and expertise.