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Negro Leagues Museum gets new O'Neil items

KANSAS CITY -- The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum received a special gift on Tuesday, the 101st anniversary of co-founder Buck O'Neil's birth.

The baseball icon's family donated a miniature replica of the Buck O'Neil statue that stands at the National Baseball Hall of Fame as well as his Presidential Medal of Freedom to be put on permanent display at the Kansas City museum.

The Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, was given posthumously by President George W. Bush to O'Neil in December 2006, two months after his death at age 94. The Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., created the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 and unveiled a life-size statue of O'Neil by sculptor Will Behrends.

"Naturally, we are extremely honored to have two very unique possessions coming home to the Negro Leagues Museum," president Bob Kendrick said. "So we really appreciate the fact that the family has decided to allow those special precious mementos to leave their home to come to our home so that the world will get an opportunity to see them."

The items have been placed in a display case devoted to O'Neil.