Lester: Buck O’Neil, captain of the mother ship

From SABR member Larry Lester at The National Pastime Museum on December 2, 2013:

The players called him Skip, for he was the captain of the mother ship that sent more Negro League veterans ashore to the major leagues than any other vessel. His crew included George Altman, Gene Baker, Ernie Banks, Willard “Home Run” Brown, J.C. Hartman, Pancho Herrera, Elston Howard, Connie Johnson, Sweet Lou Johnson, Hank Mason, Satchel Paige, Hank Thompson and Bob Thurman, to name just a few.  

John “Buck” O’Neil  was nicknamed after the co-owner of the semipro Miami Giants, Buck O’Neal, where he took his first baseball steps. He played briefly in 1937 with the Memphis Red Sox before joining the Kansas City Monarchs and made four appearances in the East-West All-Star classic. A 1944-45 tour in the U.S. Navy shipwrecked his chances for more playing opportunities.


Buck was an outstanding player, team captain, and dugout intellect. This natural leader with a toothpaste-ad smile, sincere handshake, puffy little Afro and twinkling eyes became my mentor and adviser and schooled my three daughters on the ABCs of life.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/buck-oneil

Originally published: December 2, 2013. Last Updated: December 2, 2013.