Friday, June 23, 2017

We remember Buck O'Neill (1911-2006)


Casual baseball fans were introduced to the late Buck O'Neill in Ken Burns' baseball series. Buck related so many stories of the old Negro Leagues.

O'Neill was a pretty good player in the Negro Leagues' greatest team, the Kansas City Monarchs:
"O'Neil had a career batting average of .288, including four .300-plus seasons at the plate. In 1946 the first baseman led the league in hitting with a .353 average and followed that in 1947 with a career-best .358 mark.

He also posted averages of .345 in 1940 and .330 in 1949. He played in four East-West All-Star games in three different seasons and two Negro League World Series.
World War II tour in the U.S. Navy from 1943–1945 briefly interrupted his playing career.
O'Neil was named manager of the Monarchs in 1948 after Frank Duncan's retirement, and continued to play first base as well as a regular through 1951, dropping to part time status afterward.

He managed the Monarchs from 1948 through 1954 during the declining years of the Negro Leagues, winning two and a half league titles during that time."

O"Neill won't get in the Hall of Fame because of stats. He did not hit titanic home runs like Josh Gibson. He did not cut down batters like Satchel Paige.

Buck gets my vote because he became a wonderful ambassador for baseball with kids.    For example, he came to Dallas and spoke to inner city kids about integrity, character, and even playing baseball for a living.   It's hard to think of a greater spokesman for the game than the late Buck O'Neill!

Let's hope that the writers put him in next year!






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