Buck O’Neil & Black Baseball in Chicago

Last night while watching the Blackhawks win big over Calgary, I was flipping the channel to my TV, and what should I see, but baseball! Needless to say, I stopped flipping, and my eyes became transfixed on the images on the screen. Channel 20 in Chicago was airing the premiere of Buck O’Neil & Black Baseball in Chicago, an encore showing will air November 13th at 7:30 PM, again on channel 20.

The late, great, Buck O’Neil talked about his days in the Negro Leagues and becoming the first African American baseball coach in the major leagues with the Chicago Cubs. O’Neil said, he never really resented not being allowed to play in the big leagues, because the best ballplayers of the day were in the Negro Leagues. Bob Kendrick, the Director of the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City, stated how upset he was when Buck didn’t make it into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown before his death. Seventeen former Negro Leaguers were inducted in the last induction before O’Neil’s death. Buck didn’t feel sorry for himself at not getting in, but rather was thrilled 17 others had made it, according to Kendrick.

The documentary brings the past to life. It talked about the Double Duty Classic, which features the best young high school African American ballplayers competing in this East/West Classic, named after Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe. It also shows the statue of Buck O’Neil that resides in the HOF, and there’s a lifetime achievement award named after O’Neil. Buck was the first winner of this award. Back in the day, the East/West Classic was the Negro Leagues All Star Game, was played at Comiskey Park in Chicago, would draw 50,000 fans, and featured the best African American ballplayers playing all out.

The show talks about how O’Neil managed Ernie Banks for the Kansas City Monarchs and then coached Banks with the Cubs. Buck also talked Billy Williams out of quitting after experiencing racism in Texas before coming up to the Cubs. Jermaine Dye, of the Chicago White Sox, came up with the Kansas City Royals, commented how fortunate he was to have met Buck O’Neil, while coming up to the big leagues.

There is also mention of the Chicago Baseball Museum, a work in progress, that can be checked out at www.chicagobaseballmuseum.org Also, if you can, checkout Buck O’Neil & Black Baseball in Chicago when its encore performance airs on Thursday the 13th on channel 20.

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