From SABR member Graham Womack at The Sporting News on April 5, 2016, with mention of SABR members Fay Vincent and Bob Kendrick:
Buck O’Neil would have been the oldest Hall of Famer at the time of being voted in, if only a special Negro League Committee had inducted him in February 2006. The committee notoriously enshrined 17 Negro League contributors — but not the most famous representative of black baseball.
“We made a big mistake,” the chairman of that committee and former MLB commissioner Fay Vincent told Sporting News in January. “We should have put Buck O’Neil in the Hall of Fame. I was a big supporter, but I didn’t have a vote. And I think that was an embarrassment. Not that he was the greatest player or a great manager. But he was a great human being, and he really had a major role in keeping the black consciousness, the black baseball history alive.”
O’Neil died in October 2006 at 94, less than eight months after the Hall of Fame spurned him and barely two months after speaking at induction ceremonies for the 17 Negro League contributors. Of course O’Neil got asked to speak. He embodied black baseball in the 1994 Ken Burns PBS miniseries Baseball and founded the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City. And none of the 17 inductees were living.
“I’ve said it on many occasions,” Negro League Baseball Museum director Bob Kendrick said. “I think it was one of the most selfless acts in American sports history. The world was saying, ‘This should be your day,’ and there’s ol’ Buck speaking on behalf of those who didn’t have a voice.”
Read the full article here: http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb-news/4700934-why-buck-oneil-still-doesnt-have-a-baseball-hall-of-fame-plaque
- Related link: Listen to Buck O’Neil’s keynote speech at the 1996 SABR convention in Kansas City here
Originally published: April 5, 2016. Last Updated: April 5, 2016.