Buck O'Neil (1911-2006)
Buck O’Neil passed away yesterday. It is a true loss. He was a class act in every sense of the word. I am very fortunate to have met him several times. The picture above was when I was in high school. I never walked away from him not smiling. He was always smiling, telling stories, hugging the girls, and signing autographs. I wrote to him one time and above is the response that he sent but more than anything on this post, I wanted to tell a couple of stories about him. I don’t think these stories are unique, I think everyone that ever met him has a story to tell.
I saw him after a Royals game several years ago. I was with a friend of mine who at the time was 10-11 years old. He had an old baseball he had brought with him and his glove. We went down and asked Buck to sign it. He took the ball and signed it but wouldn’t hand it back. He wanted to play catch so the kid had to go back several rows and Buck threw him a perfect strike.
The other story involves my fiancé, Sarah. Fergie Jenkins was doing an autograph signing to benefit the Negro League Museum. When we got there, Buck was there. We got his autograph but we also asked him if Sarah could get a picture with him. Everyone setting around started laughing and they all said that I might not get her back. Sarah went over to Buck and he put his arm around her and posed for the picture with a huge grin on both of their faces.
I am sad that he passed away but I am happy that I had a chance to meet him. If there ever was someone to look up to, Buck O’Neil was a perfect roll model. Buck, you will be missed.