Larry Lester was one of the founders of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) in Kansas City, Missouri, and he served as its Research Director and Treasurer for five years (1991-1995). He was instrumental in the development of the Museum’s business plan and licensing program that became its primary revenue stream in the start-up years. Lester also acquired rare artifacts from the families of Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Archie Ware, Chet Brewer and others for the NLBM’s archives. He also works in support of other institutions in securing artifacts. For example, in 1990, he secured full hooded Ku Klux Klan robes for the Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City, Missouri, and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.
During his tenure at the NLBM, Lester served as Senior Editor for its quarterly newsletter Silhouettes, and its annual yearbook Discover Greatness! The Museum’s current static exhibition was developed in 1995 from Lester’s personal collection of photographs, researched material, and memorabilia. Likewise, Lester developed the traveling Negro League exhibit that has been showcased each year at Major League Baseball’s FanFest during All-Star Week since 1993. A similar exhibit “Discover Greatness” owned by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has been presented at various museums nationally since 1999. He left the NLBM in 1995 to start NoirTech Research, Inc., combining his expertise in research and technology to strategically track the African American experience.
From 2000 to 2004, Lester was under contract with the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown, New York, to do a comprehensive study of African American baseball from the Civil War up through the mid-fifties, appropriately called “Out of the Shadows.” Project findings are to be released in the near future, with several publications expected from this academic study. In 2006, he served on the Special Negro Leagues Committee for the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, selecting a record 17 new Negro League players, executives, and managers.As a dedicated advocate for equal rights, Lester actively campaigns for retroactive pensions for worthy Negro League veterans and raises funds to purchase headstones to be placed on the unmarked graves of athletes. He was instrumental in securing retroactive Major League Baseball pensions for more than 85 former Negro Leaguers, while involving approximately 150 former players in MLB Properties’
royalty program from the sale of Negro League caps, jerseys and related apparel in the early 1990s. In 2006, he successfully campaigned with Senator Bill Nelson (of Florida), former player Bob Mitchell, and the Satchel Paige family for Congress to designate May 20th as `Negro Leaguers Recognition Day‘.On a daily basis, Lester remains in contact with more than 200 former players and their families. His research library, amassed from more than 35 years of labor, includes an array of video sport documentaries, personal audio interviews, and more than 78,000 clipping files on black athletes, roughly 16,000 photographic images, along with the only known statistical database of batting and pitching records for approximately 3,600 Negro Leaguers from the turn of the century until the breaking of the color barrier in 1947.Lester has written forewords to several books, and has served as an editor/fact checker to many doctoral dissertations and theses. He is listed as a contributing researcher to more than 150 publications on African American history, and has served as a consultant on numerous sports documentaries with ESPN, ESPN2, PBS, CNN, et al.