02.28.06

Buck O’Neal, Class Act

Posted in Baseball at 8:43 am by

The next time Goose Gossage fails to make the Baseball Hall Of Fame, Harry Carson is asked about his longtime Canton snub or Kanye West gets stiffed for some lame trophy, consider the way Buck O’Neal reacted yesterday to the news that he wasn’t amongst the 17 Negro Leagues alumni inducted into Cooperstown. (From the Kansas City Star’s Sam Mellinger and Jeff Passan).

œShed no tears for Buck, he said. œNo, no. Ol™ God™s been good to me. You can see that, don™t you? If I™m a Hall of Famer for you, that™s all I need. Just keep loving ol™ Buck.

O™Neil put a happy spin on the day, just like always. There was no disappointment, no how-could-they-leave-me-out talk. He focused more on how far America has come, that the grandson of a slave was given a fair chance at the national pastime™s highest honor.

He said not being elected didn™t hurt nearly as much as the real disappointments in his life, like when he was denied attendance at his local segregated high school in Florida. There will be no bitterness from O™Neil, only smiles.

œThis won™t stop me, he said. œI™ve got a whole lot to live for. It would have been ˜Buck O™Neil, Hall of Famer.™ Now it™s just ˜Buck O™Neil,™ which is all right. Or how about ˜Buck O™Neil, humanitarian™? That sounds better anyway.

13 Responses to “Buck O’Neal, Class Act”

  1. egg says:

    Having met Buck a couple of times, and being a fan of many Negro League players, and knowing what he’s done for bringing alive the history of Negro League baseball, I think it’s a goddamn disgusting shame he wasn’t elected. The voters are bunch of emotionless dumbnumbnuts.

  2. Chuck Meehan says:

    It would be a disgrace of Buck O’Neil had to pass away before being inducted into the HoF. I am happy at the election of the very deserving Biz Mackie.

  3. ben schwartz says:

    I rode on an elevator in St. Louis with Buck once — the only major leaguer I have ever met. I told him how much I liked seeing him in the Ken Burns documentary, “Baseball.” An Englishman on the elevator said, “Baseball? No, cricket’s the game, my friend.” I said, “How can you say that? This is Buck O’Neil, he’s one of the great ballplayers, a sure hall of famer.” Just then the elevator doors opened and O’Neil said, “Yep, so long England, ” and walked off.

    Ben

  4. matt burgess says:

    I became a Buck O’Neil fan because of Ken Burns Baseball piece.He can spin a tale better than anyone .I was glued to the screen each time he appeared.The story of the “Sound” of a batted ball hit first by Babe Ruth-then Josh Gibson-then “It was a long time before I heard that sound again-and I looked up and it was Bo Jackson!” Buck is a national treasure. If there is a broadcasters wing(as there should be) then why not step up Mr. Selig and create an “Ambassador and Living History of Baseball” category just for Buck.I would look forward to his induction speech above all others!

  5. craig says:

    Bud isnt the KEEPER of the flame, hes EXTINGUISHING the flame, what a disgrace, …………..BUCK BELONGS!!!

  6. Denny Ballmann says:

    I was so lucky to have Buck once. He was signing copies of his book. He had a sparkle in his eye and made everyone who sat with him feel as if they were the most important person in the world. Few people have that spirit. I would hate to see him go but maybe God needs an ambassador like Buck to help Him out. God bless Buck and safe travels!

  7. JOHN BARR says:

    I HAVE READ MANY BOOKS ON THE NEGRO LEAGUE. I VISITED THE NEGRO HALL OF FAME WHEN I VISITED KANSAS CITY. A TOUR OF THE HALL OF FAME WAS EXCITING AND VERY INFORMATIVE ESPECIALLY THE BASEBALL DIAMOND WHERE I WAS ABLE TO STAND NEXT TO SATCH AND GIBSON EVEN THOUGH IT WAS ONLY A BRONZE STATUE. (UNLIKE COOPERSTOWN I WAS THE ONLY ONE TOUR THE HALL THAT MORNING)
    I TOOK MY WIFE TO A CARD SHOW IN NORTH JERSEY SEVERAL MONTHS AGO ONLY WANTED ONE AUTOGRAPH- BUCK O’NEIL. HE CAME INTO THE HALL WEARING HIS MONARCH UNIFORM, A HUGH SMILE AND A BIG HELLO FOR EVERYONE. I TOLD MY WIFE HE WAS IN HIS EARLY NINETIES.WHAT ENTHUSIASM. WE HAD OUR PICTURE TAKEN WITH HIM. HE TALKED TO US AWHILE SIGNED HIS PICTURE AND MADE ME A HAPPY PERSON. IT WAS A SAD DAY WHEN HE PASSED AWAY BUT I WILL ALWAYS HAVE FINE MEMORIES OF MEETING WITH BUCK.

  8. DON BANNISTER says:

    I THINK THE HALL SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF ITSELF FOR NOT LETTING THIS FINE GENTLEMAN IN….NOW IT’S TOO LATE FOR BUCK TO KNOW……THE HALL SHOULD HAVE HAD AN EMERGENCY SESSION BEFORE HE PASSED.
    I’M REALLY SADDEN BY THESE TURNS OF EVENTS………

  9. Rosalind says:

    I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet Buck O’Neal, he was a perfect gentleman. I do recall thinking to myself a few months ago “I hope the powers that be do not wait until he is DEAD to induct him into the Hall of Fame”. Well, HE is now DEAD, once a gain the powers that be have missed an opportunity to right a wrong! Some fools don’t ever learn! His memory will live on regardless of the failure of the system!!!

  10. Glenn Hampton says:

    I met Buck at a golf tourney in Binghamton NY in Sept.’05. I had they pleasure of sitting next to him at dinner. They meal was great but sitting next to Buck is something I will never forget. I feel very fortunate to tell my friends that I was talking baseball with Buck O’Neal. I had to ask him the best players by position that played in MLB. Here’s what the MAN said:
    rhp Bob Gibson,lhp Sandy Koufax, c Johnny Bench 1b Willie McCovey 2b Joe Morgan 3b Mike Schmit ss Ernie Banks,of Frank Robinson,of Hank Aaron,of Willie Mays. Buck stated that Willie Mays was they best of them all and that Negreo Leaguer Oscar Charleston was the best player he ever saw.

  11. Louella Milton says:

    I met Buck O’Neal several years ago when he was visiting Southern University in Baton Rouge. We stayed at the same hotel. I had breakfast with him and his friends and I learned so much about the Negro League and he gave me good sound advice to give to my grandson about a future in sports. I was hoping he would be inducted in the Hall of Fame, but that was not to be. He was a wonderful man. I was saddened to hear of his death.

  12. I have been fortunate to attend many induction weekends for the baseball hall of fame.

    I have met many stars of current baseball and hockey but of them all the one that stands head and shoulders above the rest was Buck O’Neal.

    He was a true special human being, that I wish my children could have been able to meet.

    His outlook on things was just so classy. While he passed on he as made more of a mark that most could ever dream of.

    Buck O’Neil truly an American hero

    read the info mation on the negro league baseball musum about thanks buck drive to raise funds to expand the nlbm and honor one of the greatest humans. I hope everyone reading this will go to this link and donate…

  13. Joia says:

    The ever so charismatic and charming Buck O’Neal will go down in history as the greatest Ambassador for Baseball that America ever had. The travesty of his not be being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame before his transition cannot be changed; but it is so sad that he was so disrespected and snubbed like that considering all he did for the sport, and his promotion of human relations in America. Will America ever learn to atone, and just do the right thing? Mr. Buck O’Neal was a class act!

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