Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sliding, Squeeze Plays and Stealing Home: The Legacy of Negro Leagues Baseball: From Satchel Paige to Jackie Robinson, Players Wowed the Crowds

Feb. 15, 2006 — John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil, former first baseman with the Negro Leagues' Kansas City Monarchs, is working the room like a pro. Men get a firm handshake and a "lookin' good." But the ladies — all the ladies — are greeted with a huge smile and equally big hug.

And why not? How many people can claim his baseball credentials? Four seasons hitting .300-plus, a league-leading .353 average in 1946, followed by a career-best .358 the next season. The first black coach in the major leagues, leading the Chicago Cubs starting in 1962. Credited with signing Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Lou Brock. A scout with the Kansas City Royals who was named Midwest Scout of the Year in 1998. Current chairman of the board of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and unofficial ambassador of the leagues' history.

O'Neil is excited to be in New York promoting a new line of Negro Leagues shoes and apparel by Nike. He's equally enthusiastic about playing golf back home in Kansas City, Mo., during a fluke 60-degree January day.

And one other thing — he's 94. . . [click here for full story]


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