Chicago Cubs: Buck O’Neil earns long overdue HOF acceptance

(Photo by: Kidwiler Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
(Photo by: Kidwiler Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images) /

John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil Jr. has finally been voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame after falling short by just one vote prevented him from the honor back in 2006.

O’Neil broke barriers by becoming the first Black coach in MLB history when he was promoted by the Chicago Cubs from being a scout in1962. He had an incredible eye for talent, scouting and helped the team sign fellow Hall of Fame members such as Billy Williams, Lee Smith, Lou Brock and Ernie Banks. He was with the organization for 33 years before he left to join the Kansas City Royals. Before becoming a scout, O’Neil was an excellent player in his own right with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro leagues.

He finished his career with a slash line of .258/.315/.358 and was a three-time All-Star. He was the team’s everyday first baseman for just over a full decade, even with missing time serving for the United States Navy in World War II.

Chicago Cubs: Buck O’Neil left a lasting legacy on the game of baseball

O’Neil was a founder of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum when it was created in 1990 and served as a chairman up until his death in 2006 at the age of 94. He loved the game of baseball and was devoted to the preservation of the history of the game along with the hardships he had faced in order to play the game he loved at the highest level.

Although he never made it to the Show as a player, he left a lasting mark on the sport – and the Chicago Cubs – with the talent he brought into the league. The National Baseball Hall of Fame honored O’Neil by creating the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award in his honor. It is presented only every three years, and the criteria are listed by the Hall of Fame as such:

"… An individual whose extraordinary efforts enhanced baseball’s positive impact on society, broadened the game’s appeal, and whose character, integrity and dignity are comparable to the qualities exhibited by O’Neil."

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Despite a modest career of his own and most of his work being done behind the scenes, it was long overdue for O’Neil to gain admittance into Cooperstown. His impact on the game is still felt this day and it is, quite frankly, unacceptable it took this long for such a talented and beloved man to be given the credit he had earned long before his passing. I’m hoping this is the mark of a new era for the voters and that we have fewer snubs like this in the future.