Saturday, October 07, 2006
I love baseball part two.
Buck O'Neill passed away last night. Buck played for years in the negro baseball leagues and was the first black man to coach in the major leagues. He was long retired when I first heard of him and whenever I heard that he was giving an interview I made it a point to watch.
Buck told fabulous stories of the negro leagues and made me wish that I had seen it. Separated by blatant racism it is now known that many of the players would have easily made major league rosters.
Integration that started with Jackie Robinson ended segregation but also doomed the negro league. If I could go back in time knowing what I know now you would be more likely to see me at a negro league game than at the white major league games.
When I was a boy growing up I had three favorite ball players. Wille Mays, Wille McCovey, and Bobby Bonds. All black men. I never thought twice about it.
Buck O'Neill is not in the Hall of Fame but he certainly should be. Somebody asked how he felt about not being in the Hall of Fame and he responded. "Don't feel bad for me. God has been good to me." He went on to explain that he was not hurt about not being in the Hall of Fame. "That I couldn't go to the University of Florida, that hurt".
Buck is commonly referred to as the "ambassador" of the negro leagues for his wonderful stories but the greatest testament to the "ambassador" came when somebody asked him if he hated people for the way they treated him. (meaning racism during his career) He responded. "I never learned to hate".
Buck should not only be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame but those responsible for bestowing such honor should issue an apology for not having done it while he was alive.
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