Buck O’Neil

Buck O’Neil at 94 has been nominated for the Hall of Fame.  For some reason, I thought he was already in.  I think he’ll be a shoo-in. 

I was struck by his comment in the last paragraph of this MLB.com article:

“It might happen,” said O’Neil of his possible induction. “But if I don’t get into the Hall of Fame, I still feel good, because I think I’ve done a pretty good job.”

I guess at 94, you can afford to be introspective but I still think some whiny modern-day players can take a lesson from O’Neill about modesty and being humble.

Update:  I’ve since noticed that O’Neil’s last name is spelled with one “L”.  Which is interesting since the article I quoted above from mlb.com had it spelled with two “L”s.  I went back to the quoted article on mlb.com and apparently they realized their mistake too because they changed it to the correct spelling. 

I’ve corrected the misspelling as well.

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One Response to “Buck O’Neil”

  1. A Letter to the President in Behalf of Buck O’Neil
    Ernie McCray
    Dear Mr. President: The other day someone encouraged me and a few other folks to write you and ask you to present Buck O’Neil with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
    And I got behind the idea right away since I had recently happened upon a bit of info on the Presidential Medal of Freedom, about how it honors an American who has made “meritorious contributions” to “cultural endeavors” in the USA. I just have to say, Mr. President, that such criteria stirs up images in my mind of Buck O’Neil exchanging a handshake with you for such a potent and prestigious award.
    I mean, talking about contributing to our culture, this man eased into our national consciousness like a breath of new air via Ken Burns’ compelling documentary about baseball’s old Negro Leagues. His mellow voiced narration moved the story along, tying together significant pieces of American History, stories of struggles for freedom, stories of overcoming – someday. Oh, Buck O”Neil is an icon of that very history, having now told it to millions of people around the globe.
    Early on in his 94 years of life, Mr. O’Neil saw that baseball was how he was going to make his mark in the world. The major leagues, of course, for black players like him, was only a dream so he showcased his great skills in the Negro Leagues. He barnstormed much of the country as did legends like Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bear, playing an entertaining style of baseball: stretching a single into a double, a double into a triple, looking at homeplate as another base to be stolen.
    “Jackie Robinson brought Negro Baseball to the major leagues” Buck likes to say, keeping the story going on and on, maintaining its place in history, keeping its spirit alive.
    Its significant for you to consider, regarding Buck O’Neil receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, that after his playing days were done, he honored major league pioneers like Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby by walking through the doors they opened into positions as a major league scout and coach. In doing so he honored the toil and pain of generations of Americans, in all walks of life.
    In his work with the Negro League Baseball Museum and Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee he helps memorialize a period in our history that began before and coincided with the great Civil Rights Movement.
    And what’s most glorious about Buck O’Neil, Mr. President, is he could have easily, with Jim Crow mentality so imbedded in our society, evolved as an embittered man. But instead he has rolemodeled what good citizenship is all about, verily personifying the struggles of anyone or any class of people anywhere who have sought freedom and overcome oppression. And he’s done so in a spirit of love and with grace and great dignity.
    I cannot conceive of anyone being more deserving or more ideal for the Presidential Medal of Freedom than Buck O’Neil. I certainly hope, Mr. Bush, that this is the way you feel.

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