O'Neil discussion to take place on Nov. 13

November 2nd, 2020

Not only is Buck O’Neil getting a streetcar and a metro bus named after him in Kansas City on Nov. 13, but broadcaster Bob Costas also will host a discussion about the Negro League legend.

Filmmaker Ken Burns, biographer Joe Posnanski and Negro League Baseball museum president Bob Kendrick will join Costas to discuss the life of O’Neil on his 109th birthday. The discussion, Remembering Buck, will take place on Facebook at 12:30 p.m. CT and is presented by Husch Blackwell.

“We have always had a great relationships with both Ken Burns and Bob Costas,” Kendrick said. “When we opened NLBM back in 1997, Bob Costas was the emcee. Ken Burns was one of a collection of star guests who attended that grand opening. We always maintained a solid relationship with both of them.”

O’Neil was born in Carrabelle, Fla., but he made Kansas City his adopted home after playing 11 years with the Monarchs of the Negro Leagues. In fact, O’Neil has been honored by his adopted hometown numerous times.

There’s the Buck O’Neil Bridge, which spans the Missouri River. This past summer, the USS Kansas City, a combat ship located in San Diego, named its galley after O’Neil. It’s called “The Right on Time Cafe” -- a tribute to O’Neil’s autobiography. The Royals have a Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat behind home plate that honors those who serve the local community. And let’s not forget that O’Neil was a driving force behind the creation of the Negro League Baseball Museum, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year.

O’Neil became nationally known for his appearance in the 1994 documentary, “Baseball,” by Burns. O’Neil gladly told stories about his days as a player/coach in the Negro Leagues. As a player, O’Neil helped the Monarchs win the Negro World Series in 1942.

“You had this charming, gentle man telling these wonderful stories to baseball fans,” Kendrick said. “He was doing it with a twinkle in his eye and a smile that lit up the screen. America fell in love with Buck O’Neil. He was 82 years old at that time. When we look at Ken’s documentary on the history of baseball, the star of ‘Baseball’ was Buck O’Neil. … Ken Burns gave him a platform that people listened.”

After his Negro League career ended, O’Neil became a successful scout in Major League Baseball. As a scout for the Cubs, O’Neil signed Lou Brock, Lee Smith, Joe Carter and Oscar Gamble to their first professional contracts. Two of those players -- Brock and Smith -- became Hall of Famers. Carter and Gamble had fantastic careers.

The NLBM is a privately funded nonprofit organization; annually renewing memberships to support the museum are available from $25 to $1,000. Membership includes free admission for the year, a 10 percent discount on merchandise from the NLBM Extra Inning Store and advance information on special events. Members also receive a gift and additional benefits at each level of support.