When I woke up this morning, I turned on the TV to catch some highlights from the Tigers game while I ate breakfast. Instead, I was greated with the news that Buck O'Neil had died. I turned to my roommate, but the he only thing that could come out of my mouth was "Dude, this sucks." I really had no words to describe how saddened I was to hear that Buck had died. Meeting Buck O'Neil is the highlight of my baseball life. The text of my recap of meeting Buck follows.
Yesterday, I had the extreme privilege of meeting Buck O'Neil. For those of you who don't know, Buck was a Negro League's player for the Kansas City Monarchs, among others, and the first black coach in the Major Leagues when he coached for the Cubs. He's been on the Veteran's Committee of the Hall of Fame since about 1981 and runs the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City. Not only that, he's a great person. When he entered the museum (I was at the Bob Feller Museum, more on him later), I didn't realize who he was. I saw him across the room. He started hugging the ladies behind the desk, being generally jovial. He radiated a happiness that was contagious. Everyone in the museum was full of energy, and it was 8 in the morning. He was shaking hands and talking to everyone. He made you feel like he came to see you, and I genuinely think that he did. I'm pretty sure Buck had as much fun meeting me as I did him. I was really near the beginning of the line to get his autograph, but he had a magnetic personality that made me hang around. I could have left and come back to sleep some more, but Buck made me not want to leave. Everyone was having a great time. Stories flew, people laughed, Buck told a joke. He was happy to tell anyone a story. It was just all around great. Any other time, meeting Bob Feller would have been at the top of my list, but Buck was today, and Bob understood that. Bob just kinda laid low. I got to talk to him as well. Bob was a great guy as well. He too had a genuine want to talk to everyone there. Judging by some of the other people there, he was a regular, greeting a lot of people by their first names. Yesterday was so much fun, and I'm very grateful to have gotten to meet two legends of the game.Buck O'Neil [February 28, 2006]