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Phil S. Dixon’s Memorial Day Tribute to Vet. Wilber “Bullet” Rogan

Phil S. Dixon's baseball journey began in a Kansas City, Kansas neighborhood during a far different time when the Major Leagues were expanding for the first time since their inception, opening up play west of St. Louis. The New York Yankees encountered their first slump in nearly 50 years. A pack of baseball cards, costing only a nickel, came with a stick of gum and Dixon's collected many. He has seen considerable changes to the game he loves, but one thing that hasn't changed is his passion for his hometown hero Wilber "Bullet" Rogan. Dixon hasn't slumped in talking about Rogan for the past 40+ years.

Most sports fans have read that Charles Wilber “Bullet” Rogan, also known as Bullet, was born July 28, 1893, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and that he played the outfield and pitched for most of his Hall of Fame career with the Kansas City Monarchs. They have read about his outstanding career on the United States Army baseball team, and that he played in Hawaii and other points outside the country, often performing year-round in Winter Leagues. Usually overlooked is how and where he got started in baseball. Dixon, who is from the same city where Rogan grew up also came of age in baseball in that same city. That place for Rogan and Dixon was Kansas City, Kanas. Rogan moved there in his youth. Dixon was born there.

Rogan began playing baseball around 1908 for the Place Colts. The Colts were considered the best 18-19-year-old team of players in both Kansas Cities. Their home field was Riverside Park located at Second and Franklin Avenue. They were Champions of "Two Cities." It was their great play that eventually put them out of business. Not only were they unbeatable, no one wanted to play them. Shortly thereafter, Rogan pushed his up by three or four years and joined the United States Army. By the time Dixon started playing baseball in the same community, few recalled the Place Coats, but they were still talking about Rogan. He came across information on local baseball and its history by interviewing one of Rogan’s former teammates, Fred Langford, and by interviewing people who knew the Rogan family well. There was so much to say that Dixon penned two books, “The Monarchs 1920-1938, Featuring Wilber "Bullet" Rogan,” and “Wilber Bullet Rogan and the Kansas City Monarchs.”

As a Kansas City Monarchs historian, Phil S. Dixon has always maintained that Rogan’s lifetime statistics, including semipro and military games, exceed 350 wins, over 2,000 strikeouts, more than 2,500 hits, over 350 home runs, and 500 or more stolen bases. Rogan is often compared with Babe Ruth in the discussion about Baseball's Greatest All-Around Players. In Dixon's estimation, Rogan wins easily.

Dixon’s book, “Wilber Bullet Rogan and the Kansas City Monarchs,” is both a biography of Rogan and a history of the great Kansas City Monarchs teams from 1920 to 1938. This comprehensive work pays tribute to the man who has long been Dixon's Hometown Hero. During Rogan’s career, the Monarchs won two Negro League World Series and five pennants, in addition to launching the careers of several outstanding players and conducting many barnstorming tours.

Phil S. Dixon is taking this Memorial Day to bring attention and admiration to Rogan.

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