Joe Poz: On Buck O’Neil and Roland Hemond

From Joe Posnanski’s blog on February 23:

Of course, I desperately wanted Buck [O’Neil] to be elected into the Hall of Fame while he was alive. The snubbing undoubtedly hurt me more than it hurt him because Buck was my friend and because, of course, I do not have Buck’s strength of character. That said, when he died I sincerely hoped that the Hall of Fame would not posthumously induct him into the Hall. I thought in some ways that would have been an insult to what the man’s ideals and principles — it would have smacked of pity and regret, two things that Buck had no use for.

But when they announced the Buck O’Neil Award, well, I thought the Hall of Fame got it exactly right. They got it perfect. Son, what has my life been about? Here they would have a chance to honor all those people in baseball who have not been honored, all those people who have helped make baseball fantastic and joyful but have not been celebrated and not been inducted into the Hall of Fame. It seemed to me that this was EXACTLY the way to honor Buck’s memory.


Tuesday, they gave the first Buck O’Neil Award to longtime scout and executive Roland Hemond. And it was an utterly beautiful choice. Hemond has been in baseball for 60 years, and he has breathed life and triumph and delight into the game for all those years.


Roland Hemond broke down in tears when he won the award. That’s what the award should be about. That, I think, is what Buck O’Neil’s life was about — it was about not letting wonderful moments and wonderful people drift away unremembered.

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Originally published: February 23, 2011. Last Updated: February 23, 2011.