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Salute to Buck O’Neil & the Negro Leagues

07/18/2008 8:00 AM -

The T-Bones honor Buck O'Neil and the Negro Leagues tonight, July 18, as the team plays Schaumburg in the first game of a three-game set at 7:05.  

African-Americans started to play baseball in the late 1800s, and began organized play in 1920.  Andrew Foster, former player, manager and owner of the Chicago American Giants, met with other Midwestern team owners at the Paseo YMCA in Kansas City, Mo., to form the Negro National League.

Jackie Robinson, the first African-American in the modern era to play on a Major League roster, played for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.  Robinson’s historic moment in baseball began a decline in the Negro Leagues, as black players were recruited to the major leagues.  The Negro League teams ended in the 1960s, but their history exists through the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum located at 18th Street in Kansas City, Mo.

John “Buck” O’Neil (1911-2006) was known for his sleek maneuvering at first base for the Kansas City Monarchs as they won four consecutive Negro American League pennants, for a team he later managed.

O’Neil hit .288 for his career with four seasons over .300 and a career high .358.  He competed in three Negro American League All Star games and two in the Negro League World Series, and played in numerous exhibition games along with Satchel Paige.

Besides managering the Monarchs, O’Neil also spent time as a Major League Baseball scout for the Chicago Cubs.  In 1962, he was named the first black coach in the majors serving on the Cubs staff.  O’Neil became a scout for the Royals in 1988, and was named the “Midwest Scout of the Year” in 1998.  At the 2006 Northern League All-Star Game at CommunityAmerica Ballpark he led off hits in the first inning for each team and drew a walk in both appearances.  O’Neil became the oldest person to play in a professional baseball game at 94 years of age.

O’Neil is recognized as a famous member of african-american baseball at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.  For more information about the life of Buck O’Neil or the history of the Negro Leagues go to www.nlbm.com.