Buck O’Neil’s dream to create an education and research center is one step closer to completion

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- From museums and bridges the legacy of Buck O'Neil lives on in Kansas City.

As construction continues at the old Paseo YMCA to expand his legacy, a project Buck started working on before he died is one step closer to completion.

What was once an eye sore will soon become the "Buck O'Neil Education and Research Center."

The center was Buck's dream and will be an expansion of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and ultimately open to the public.

"When we built the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in our current home, we thought we had a lot of space," said Bob Kendrick with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. "But as we've grown through the years, we've run out of space. We needed a place where we could do programming, where we could create expanded exhibit opportunities, and other things that's going to help make the museum relevant as we move into the 21st-century and beyond."

"So much of the credit has to go to Mr. Ollie Gates," Kendrick added. "He's been kind of our patriarch. He's been the guy that's been out in front of this project for so very long."

Inside the new Buck O'Neil Center

Inside the new Buck O'Neil Center

Kendrick says Gates and Buck were great friends.

"To see the transformation of this old building which had been abandoned, which had become a community eye sore, which was harboring vagrants, other illicit activity, to see it cleaned up and now to see it gutted and of course the first tangible aspect of this building in terms of its functionality, it makes you feel good," Kendrick said.

Another sneak peek of the center is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 13. That's also the anniversary of when the first professional negro league was founded in the same building in 1920.