KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The late and great Kansas City Monarch has finally been selected to have a place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Buck O’Neil spent nearly eight decades in baseball in a myriad of roles: player, manager, coach, scout and executive.
Many regard O’Neil as a man who transformed the game of baseball.
O’Neil got his start in semipro ball before spending time with various minor league clubs. He broke into the Negro American League with the Memphis Red Sox in 1937, then played first base for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1938. He would remain with the club for almost two decades.
From 1939-42, the Monarchs won four consecutive Negro American League pennants, sweeping the Homestead Grays in the Negro League World Series in 1942.
O’Neil stepped away from baseball in 1943 when he was drafted into the Navy. The year he returned, 1946, Kansas City reached the World Series again, this time losing to the Newark Eagles in seven games.
In 1948, O’Neil was named player-manager of the Monarchs – a role he would hold until 1955.
O’Neil discovered and developed a number of future talents, including HOFer Ernie Banks and Elston Howard, who would become the first Black player for the New York Yankees.
O’Neil departed Kansas City in 1955 and signed on as a scout for the Chicago Cubs. There, he continued to prove his ability for talent identification, signing future big leaguer Oscar Gamble and future Hall of Famer Lou Brock.
The Cubs promoted O’Neil to their major league coaching staff in 1962, making him the first Black coach to serve on an AL or NL roster.
He returned to scouting in 1964 and later signed future Hall of Famer Lee Smith before the Royals brought him back to Kansas City as a scout in 1988.
Upon his return to Kansas City, O’Neil was determined to create a permanent museum to honor the legacy of the Negro Leagues.
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum was established in 1990, with O’Neil serving as chairman.
Before O’Neil died in 2006, he was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor.
That year, when 17 Negro Leagues legends were inducted into the Hall of Fame, O’Neil came to Cooperstown for the Induction Ceremony and spoke on their behalf.
He was also honored with the Hall of Fame Buck O’ Neil lifetime achievement award in 2008.
The 2022 Induction Ceremony will take place at 12:30 p.m. CT Sunday, July 24, on the grounds of the Clark Sports Center.
The Induction Ceremony will be broadcast live exclusively on MLB Network.