John "Buck" O'Neil
November 13, 1911 - October 6, 2006
Born in Carrabelle, Florida
Baseball player and first African American coach in Major League Baseball
One of the most charismatic of America’s baseball heroes, Buck O’Neil is considered by many to be one of the game’s greatest ambassadors. With a career spanning seven decades, the three-time Negro League All Star veteran became the first African American coach in the major leagues.
At the age of 12, O’Neil began playing for the semi-professional Sarasota Tigers. Although he traveled throughout Florida with the team, O’Neil had to work as a box boy and shoe shiner to support himself. After graduating from high school, he won a scholarship to Jacksonville’s Edward Waters College, and completed two years before resuming his baseball career.
O'Neil as a young man
Recognizing the need to preserve and celebrate the history of the Negro League, O’Neil co-founded the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. Because of his articulate and engaging style, O’Neil rapidly became a media favorite and was a key contributor to the “Shadow Ball” segment in Ken Burns’ PBS “Baseball” documentary. He published his autobiography, I Was Right On Time: My Journey from the Negro Leagues to the Majors, in 1996.
Truly dedicated to the sport of baseball, O’Neil served as board chairman of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, as well as a veterans’ committee member for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. He also campaigned for pensions for surviving Negro League players. He was married to the late Ora Lee Owen O’Neil for 51 years.
O'Neil passed away on October 6, 2006. He will be remembered as one of the Negro Leagues’ finest players and appreciated for his insights into the history of baseball.VIDEO CLIPS
• Buck O'Neil's Wikipedia Page
• Ernie Banks Visionary Page
URL (Click to bookmark): http://www.visionaryproject.org/oneiljohn