Wednesday, March 8, 2017


The next Negro Leagues legend I wanted to profile wasn’t necessarily the greatest in terms of on-field performances, but definitely one of the most beloved figures, all-time good guy Buck O’Neil:

Every once in a while you have a sports figure who comes along and leaves a mark so huge ASIDE from their on-field resume, and Buck was just one of those guys.
By NO means a “common-player” during his 17-year playing career, O’Neil batted a career .288 by some accounts, almost all of it with the Kansas City Monarchs for which he is so historically connected to.
He also managed the Monarchs for eight seasons between 1948 and 1955, leading them to two league titles, with a shared title one other season when there was no playoff.
After his managerial tenure,  he became a scout for the Chicago Cubs , and thus began a relationship with the Major Leagues that included becoming the first African-American coach in MLB history in 1962, while also becoming a central figure in establishing a Negro leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, for which he served on it’s honorary board until his death.
Of course, O’Neil was brought to EVERYONE’S attention with his awesome recollections of the Negro Leagues in the Ken Burn’s “Baseball” documentary, and soon after became a frequent speaker on behalf of the history of the Negro Baseball Leagues.
I love the quip he had about “Cool Papa” Bell, when someone asked him, “So how fast was “Cool Papa” Bell?”, and he’d instantly answer back, “Quicker than that!”.
Love it!
Sadly, his rightful place in the Baseball Hall of Fame eluded him, but hopefully he’ll find his place among the other Negro League greats that reside there soon enough. It’s just a shame it didn’t happen while he was still alive.
Would have been great to see that smile up there on that podium in Cooperstown as a “Hall of Famer”!

1 comment:

  1. I remember discovering him on the Ken Burns Baseball documentary. What a wonderful man.



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