Kansas City can finally celebrate after Buck O’Neil was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
If you ask around, most will agree – it was a long time coming.
John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil took his place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon in Cooperstown, New York. Sunday’s induction came after O’Neil fell just one vote shy of reaching the Hall of Fame in 2006. The induction cements his legacy as a pillar of the African-American community in Kansas City and the United States, but most Kansas Citian’s could already tell you that.
“Buck made our city world-class as a player and a sports and cultural ambassador for almost his entire life,” Mayor Quinton Lucas tweeted Sunday. “We are so proud to see him get his due today.”
O’Neil was born and grew up in Florida, before embarking on a path that would lead him to the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Baseball League where he played and coached until 1955.
O’Neil won the Negro World Series champion in 1942. He was a three-time All-Star with the Kansas City Monarchs, where he even took over as a player-manager in 1948. He decided to put his baseball career on hold for two years while serving in the United States Navy during WWII, but returned to become the Negro American League batting champion in 1946.
In 1955, Buck would become a scout for the Chicago Cubs in Major League Baseball and later he would be named the first Black coach in the Major Leagues, during a time when discrimination and racism persisted within the game. O’Neil was candid about his experiences with discrimination in and outside of the game. In 1988 O’Neil would be offered a scouting position with his hometown Kansas City Royals it was here that he would end his career. O’Neil wasn’t done though, he was instrumental in establishing the Negro Baseball Museum in Kansas City and served as an honorary board chairman.
O’Neil passed away in 2006 with numerous accoladed and a lasting legacy, but one that he had been waiting for was to be inducted into baseball’s most honored club. On Sunday, O’Neil was formally enshrined into that club, with his niece Angela Terry accepting the nomination and delivering a speech on his behalf.
We couldn’t be more proud to have you represent us, Buck.