February 12, 2006

Buck O'Neil headed to baseball's Hall?: He and 30 other former Negro Leaguers are up for what is likely to be their last chance at induction.

posted by BullpenPro to baseball at 12:19 PM - 16 comments

The Hall of Fame is conducting a special ballot that is the result of a comprehensive five-year research project on African-Americans in baseball. This is likely to be the final opportunity for many of these players to gain induction. The charasmatic O'Neil joins Minnie Minoso as the only living candidates on the ballot. O'Neil played an integral role in the election of many of the Negro Leaguers currently in the Hall as a member of the HOF's Veterans Committee. It will be interesting to see if O'Neil's contributions to the game, most notably his role as historian and storyteller, best illustrated in his appearances in Ken Burns' extensive documentary, will influence the voting.

posted by BullpenPro at 12:33 PM on February 12

BullpenPro Thanks for the O'Neil update. Your bringing up a subject that's near and dear to my heart. Here's a link to a column I penned a few months ago Titled "Amoung The Immortals", since that time I've also read Dr.Hogan's important book "Shades of Glory" which was finally released Jan 31st. and is considered the definitive work by most experts on the subject. Dr. Hogan, who headed the program for MLB HOF the last five years along with 50 other scholars and historians are continueing to pursue this important work . I have another column I'm publishing after the HOF announcements are made later this month. I've also outlined the voting procedures somewhat in that piece and Mr. O'Neil certainly has been an important resource for the Selection Committee to draw upon. Look for more on this in the media as the announcement draws near.

posted by skydivedad at 01:00 PM on February 12

I'm kind of surprised Buck O'Neil isn't in already. Given the work he's done, that had better be a formality.

posted by chicobangs at 01:34 PM on February 12

I met Buck in 1981 at the NLCS. What a wonderful man, full of stories and a smile that brightens your life. At the time he was employed by the Cubs, the last time they had a baseball man on the payroll.

posted by petem at 01:58 PM on February 12

Yeah, I'm with chico- I stunned, I thought O'Neil already was in the HOF!!! Yes, his stats were never amazingly great, but the man has more than 7 decades of baseball in him, was a good player in the Negro leagues, the first black coach, one of the first scouts, and a walking repository of baseball lore and "ambassador" of the game itself. The HOF isn't only about the players on the field, after all: the sum total of one's contribution to baseball should be taken into effect, and people like O'Neill who contributed both on and off the field in such great amounts should be HOFers. While I do think it is long past time to finalize any remaining Negro leaguers or other early 20th century players in the Hall- it may be unpopular, but I've felt that veteran's and other inductions are contrary to the spirit of the Hall- I agree with chico that surely this is a good time to take care of the formality of O'Neill's status.

posted by hincandenza at 03:16 PM on February 12

Thanks also to the inestimable skydivedad- you are our Spofi interview king! Weird, I don't remember seeing that column linked on the sidebar... I think we should have better promotion of our columnists on the sidebars, I apparently have been missing some real gems! :( We'll all know on February 27th, I guess... here's hoping!

posted by hincandenza at 03:18 PM on February 12

What a shame if he doesn't get in. The Hall had better take into account ALL his accomplishments!

posted by IRUNNIKE87 at 05:01 PM on February 12

We need a concerted effort to get him in. Just like what Baseball fans did to get Bruce Suter in, a united effort.

posted by Joe88 at 09:31 PM on February 12

The list of 39 Players was culled from a list of 94 in Nov. by a committee chaired by Fay Vincent (non voting member) and included Dr. Lawrence Hogan, Adrian Burgos, Lawrence Lester, Dick Clark (not that Dick Clark) and Jim Overmyer. All of them will also be on the Final Selection Committe meeting in Tampa at the end of Feb. I assure you all of these gentlemen have impeccable credentials, the other 7 members of the special selection committee were chosen by the HOF Board of Directors for their expertise and they are: Todd Bolton: Latin American Greg Bond: 19th Century Ray Doswell: overall knowledge Leslie Heaphy: Womens History, Negro Leagues Neil Lanctot: Negro Leagues Eastern U.S. Sammy Miller: Western, Eastern Negro Leagues Robert Peterson: overall knowledge I'm confident Spike "Buck" O'Neil will recieve the nine votes necessary and will soon be "Amoung The Immortals"

posted by skydivedad at 10:35 PM on February 12

Just thinking about other guys that didn't play the game but should be in the HOF. Yosh Kawano, the Cubs clubhouse guy. He has been with that club in some capacity since before WWII. During part of the war he was "interrned" at a camp in Nevada or Utah when Mr Wrigley put him on the payroll. He has been the clubhouse man for over 60 years. When he was a kid, and the team trained on Santa Catalina, he was the batboy. How much of one's life do one have to give before they get some real recognition?

posted by petem at 12:16 AM on February 13

Just thinking of the players O'neil was around send shivers down my spine. Players like paige, cool papa bell, jackie robinson, ernie banks, etc....THAT alone to good enough to get in. As other sport filter poster's have mentioned I'm suprise his not in. He should've been In over 25 years ago.

posted by Grrrlacher at 12:19 AM on February 13

Baseball is no longer "the national pastime," no matter how many times it says it is. The only way any young people will ever understand how baseball captivated the American public the way the NFL does now is to listen to the likes of Buck O'Neil. It's difficult to say whether or not O'Neil should be in the Hall. I would love to see it happen, but on the other hand, there were probably people who thought that a guy like, say, Rabbit Maranville (lifetime avg. .258) belonged in the Hall for playing for 23 seasons.

posted by L.N. Smithee at 01:44 AM on February 13

Skydivedad -- thanks for sharing that interview. The best part of it was that you drew out the development of the Pride and Passion exhibit, which is a really striking display in the museum -- and one that has been greatly enhanced by this 5-year project. Anyone who has not visited Cooperstown should know that the accomplishments of all of the people on this ballot will be well represented in the Hall, regardless of whether or not they have a plaque hanging in the gallery.

posted by BullpenPro at 07:01 AM on February 13

.Hey! I think this is so awsome

posted by sportgirl at 10:12 AM on February 13

No doubt that Buck O'Neil should be in the HOF. He should be there because of what he DID not WHO he played with as posted by one writer. If that were the case everyone would qualify. Another name I think should be in the HOF is Gil Hodges, Brooklyn Dodger firstbaseman. Corky

posted by Noresetroc at 10:28 AM on February 13

Buck is one of our most treasured figures here in Kansas City. He ranks higher in most peoples estimation than Harry Truman or George Brett. He's also very involved with the Negro League Museum here. Should you ever cross his path be sure to ask him about "Nancy" and you will hear the funniest story you could imagine about Satchel Paige.

posted by Tinman at 10:32 AM on February 13

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