The disgrace of Major League Baseball
O'Neil not going to Cooperstown
By JEFF PASSAN
The Kansas City Star
Buck O’Neil was not elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on this morning, preventing him from the same honor he helped so many others receive as the Negro Leagues’ greatest ambassador.
It was likely the last chance to be inducted into the Hall for the 94-year-old O’Neil, who was on the ballot with 38 other Negro Leagues players, managers and contributors. O’Neil needed to receive nine votes from a 12-person special committee that convened in Tampa, Fla., this weekend and announced its vote Monday afternoon.
Years of campaigning from friends and baseball luminaries were not enough to boost O’Neil’s career as a player, which was stellar but not Hall-worthy, according to critics of the Kansas City icon.
Supporters lauded O’Neil’s accomplishments beyond his playing days. As a player with the Kansas City Monarchs, O’Neil won two Negro Leagues batting titles. As a manager for the Monarchs, he piloted one of black baseball’s most storied franchises to five Negro Leagues pennants. As a scout for the Chicago Cubs, he discovered Lou Brock and Ernie Banks. As a coach for the Cubs, he became the first African-American on a Major League Baseball staff.
From that point on, O’Neil dedicated himself to spreading the story of the Negro Leagues. He was affable and friendly, always smiling and willing to pose for pictures. O’Neil drew in an audience with his openness and enraptured it with his stories about everything from the ills of segregation to why Negro Leagues great Satchel Paige called him Nancy.
In 1990, the museum opened and gave O’Neil a new avenue and greater audience. He still travels the country speaking to adults and children alike, fanning himself out in hopes of bringing others in.
“Without Buck,” museum spokesman Bob Kendrick said, “we aren’t here.”
O’Neil championed the Negro Leagues player forgotten after the first special election that saw nine players inducted. After Hilton Smith gained entry in 2001, the number of Negro Leaguers in the Hall of Fame was 18.
“I don’t even want to think about making it,” O’Neil said in January. “It would take too much energy, and I need to save mine for better things.
They elected two white people and a convicted criminal, but not O'Neil. People should flood MLB with letters, but the odds are this will hardly be mentioned outside sports radio and Olbermann
posted by Steve @ 12:02:00 AM