Buck O'Neill - Rest in Peace
ESPN just mentioned that former Negro League baseball star Buck O'Neill passed away today. I first got to know Buck from his work on the Ken Burns documentary about baseball over the decades. In recent years I've seen him interviewed many times about the old Negro leagues and about baseball in Kansas City. He was always the consummate ambassador for the sport of baseball. The man lived 94 years and I'm sure life gave him many reasons to be angry or bitter. Last year the Hall of Fame veterans committee elected 17 individuals from the old Negro Leagues and Buck O'Neill fell one vote short of election. Did he exhibit and animosity about that oversight? No, in fact he gave a great speech acknowledging those who were selected for enshrinement.
I never saw O'Neill play baseball. I don't know if he was any better than some of the players already enshrined in Cooperstown. I do think his overall contributions to the game should be recognized and remembered. I do know that electing him this January would be a day late and a dollar short. If he is elected on the next go around it will be assumed to be a sympathy vote. Buck never asked for sympathy and would be insulted if he was elected for any reason except being deserving.
My last thoughts are he always struck me as one heck of a guy. Even in his 90's, when he discussed his golfing he sounded proud. The smile on his face when he mentioned that he scored a hole in one made me want to go play golf.
A good man who lived a good life. My prayers go out to his family.