July 18, 2006

Buck O'Neil leads off: for both teams in a minor-league all star game.

At the age of 94.

posted by mr_crash_davis to baseball at 08:58 PM - 16 comments

It really is baffling that he ddn't make the Hall of Fame, after all the work he did to raise the profile of the Negro Leagues and keep their memory alive the last half century. Well, at least (touch wood) he's looking good to make it to next year's ceremony. Is there a reason why he wouldn't make it? I mean, this can't be about numbers anymore, is it?

posted by chicobangs at 09:28 PM on July 18, 2006

The kind of guy makes me glad to be born human.

posted by yerfatma at 09:46 PM on July 18, 2006

Man, look at that guy. I hope i look that good when i'm 60!

posted by yankee0758 at 10:01 PM on July 18, 2006

There are a lot of great guys not in the Hall of Fame. Ultimately, it came down to performance on the field. O'Neil is a great ambassador for the game, a terrific gentleman, and a crowd favorite. But, he was not a Hall of Fame caliber player. Believe me, he was given no short-shrift in consideration by the Negro Leagues panel. Look for the Hall of Fame to unveil a new award to honor performance off the field in the next few years and give it to (and possibly name it after) O'Neil. It won't be this year, because it would look like the Hall blew it in the elections, and they don't want to undercut the process or make it seem like a concession. But it will be soon. You may mark it accordingly in your list of predictions.

posted by BullpenPro at 11:14 PM on July 18, 2006

Asked if he remembered who he was facing in that last at-bat, he replied: ďI donít remember yesterday and you ask me who the pitcher was in 1955?Ē Well, his memory might be failing him, but his wit is still there.

posted by grum@work at 12:32 AM on July 19, 2006

Man, that is so friggin' cool!

posted by Drood at 01:50 AM on July 19, 2006

Bullpenpro-I think you hit it on the head. A new award would be the only way to go for Buck, as his on field performance is not deserving of the Hall. But, this guy is one Class Act though. We here in KC think the world of him. He is truly an extrordinary ambasidor to the game.

posted by kcfan4life at 05:30 AM on July 19, 2006

Hmmm, seems to me there should be a place for him in the Hall as it is now. Consider a "few" of his acomplishments; Sent the likes of: Ernie Banks, George Altman, Gene Baker, Francisco Herrera, Elston Howard, J.C. Hartman, Connie Johnson, Sweet Lou Johnson, Satchel Paige, Hank Thompson and Bob Thurman, to the Major Leagues. In 1942, O'Neil led the Monarchs to a Negro American League title and faced the Homestead Grays in the Negro World Series. Buck hit a robust .353, as the Monarchs swept the Grays in four games. O'Neil won batting titles in 1940 and 1946, blasting out averages of .345 and .350, respectively. After winning the 1946 batting title, O'Neil and the Monarchs met the Newark Eagles of the National League in the world championship. Buck hit .333 against the Eagles, along with two home runs (one a grandslam), but his Monarchs fell in seven games. His achievements also included being named to the East-West All-Star Classic in 1942, 1943 and 1949. Buck also had the honor of managing the West squad in 1950, 1953, 1954 and 1955. The West was victorious in all four contests. Buck's career also included playing for the 1946 Satchel Paige AllStars, who toured the nation against Bob Feller's All-Stars in a 14 game series. O'Neil succeeded Frank Duncan, in 1948, as manager of the Kansas City Monarchs. He continued to manage the Monarchs until 1955. Buck led the Monarchs to league titles in 1948, 1950, 1951 and 1953. In 1956, O'Neil was hired by the Chicago Cubs as a scout. Perhaps his greatest achievement came in 1962, when he became the first African-American coach in the Major Leagues with the Cubs. Today, Buck O'Neil chairs the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Board of the Directors, and serves on the Veterans' Committee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Although a member of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, he would CERTAINLY, IMHO, feel at home in Cooperstown, New York

posted by stockman at 07:38 AM on July 19, 2006

This was one of my favorite stories this week so far (besides Willie Harris being DFA'd). Thanks for posting it, crash.

posted by jerseygirl at 07:44 AM on July 19, 2006

I think Buck deserves the honor of having a piece of baseball and the Hall in his name. A new honour that would befit a man that is so much more than just a player. Of course, he'd probably rather go in as a player, but really, he doesn't have the credentials. So I'm in for expanding the builder's category, or just plain making up a reason for this guy to be enshrined. He's earned it the hard way - over a lifetime.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:29 AM on July 19, 2006

If itís all about what you do on the field why isnít Pete Rose in the hall of fame? I think that it also includes ones overall contribution to the game. Buck deserves the honor.

posted by Pitthokie at 11:33 AM on July 19, 2006

Hell, I bet the guy can still play better than Canseco can. Thats a real joke- to see him flail in the minors. *Anyone want to bet that Julio Franco will break the record?*

posted by redsoxrgay at 01:42 PM on July 19, 2006

Anyone who saw the Ken Burn's 9 Innings Special ( actually 9 episodes) realizes that this gentleman belongs in Cooperstown. I was absolutely impressed with this gentleman and could have listened to him tell stories as long as he could remember them. I was absolutely enthralled with his story telling about his playing days and if I had anything to say about it, this gentleman's stories alone would be in Cooperstown where every true baseball fan could enjoy him for generations to come! I will say one more thing then get down off my soapbox, but he along with many more black players should have been in Cooperstown long before now!

posted by BamaKen at 04:16 PM on July 19, 2006

After watching Burns' Baseball about 100x in college (it went well with beer), I still think of Buck O'Neil every time I say "Damn" when I'm exhausted. "There's got to be something better than this."

posted by yerfatma at 07:08 PM on July 19, 2006

a great and very inspirational story. Notice especially how he hustled to first after the walk. a class act all the way and hope he gets in the hall of fame next year.

posted by urall cloolis at 10:20 PM on July 19, 2006

O'Neil will be a featured speaker at this year's Induction Ceremony. Nobody disputes that O'Neil was a very good player. Nobody disputes that he has done much for baseball. However: a) His numbers do not suggest that he was much better than, say, Bill Madlock, who won several batting titles, was an All-Star, and had a .300+ batting average in the post-season. You can probably make an argument for both of them to get into the Hall, but neither is a flagrant omission when it comes to on-field achievements. b) Lots of people break barriers in baseball but are not inducted. Most of them, like O'Neil, are given due mention in the museum, they just don't have a plaque on the wall. Pitthokie: coincidentally, your nickname is the sound I made when I read your comment. Rose's behavior, if permitted by baseball, would flat out destroy the game. That's a pretty good reason to keep somebody out of the Hall, regardless of their on field contributions. If O'Neil had done anything to single-handedly save baseball from utter destruction (like, say, Kennesaw Mountain Landis), then he would, like Landis, probably find himself enshrined. Please don't use Pete Rose's name in a thread about Buck O'Neil anymore. Your comparison gave me physical pain. I love Buck O'Neil. But he is not going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player or executive. If it didn't happen this year -- when the Hall elected 17 and almost certainly the last of the players from the Negro League and pre-Negro League eras -- then it just isn't going to happen for him in the traditional way. It is no slight to the man (just ask him). The Hall of Fame treats him like a king, as they should, and as I said earlier, I see large and admittedly overdue recognition for him in the near future.

posted by BullpenPro at 12:24 PM on July 20, 2006

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