Hall of Famer Buck O'Neil certainly 'one in a million'

August 2nd, 2022

This story was excerpted from Anne Rogers’ Royals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

On Friday, Bob Kendrick and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum kicked off an epic celebration brought home to Kansas City from Cooperstown, honoring museum co-founder and newly-inducted Hall of Famer Buck O'Neil.

The NLBM launched a new fundraiser last week called “Thanks a Million, Buck,” based on the idea of one million or more people donating a “buck” -- at least $1 -- to ThanksAMillionBuck.com in an effort to raise at least $1 million for the Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center at the site of the Paseo YMCA, where the National Negro League was founded in 1920.

“We want you all to be at least one in a million,” Kendrick said, “celebrating someone who was indeed one in a million.”

Like all of us, Kendrick, the current NLBM president who is carrying on O’Neil’s legacy, wished O’Neil would have been here to see his induction into the Hall of Fame, something that has been long overdue since he was not elected in 2006 -- the year he died at age 94. But Kendrick concedes that perhaps the timing of O’Neil’s call to the Hall is right, ushering the NLBM into “a new phase of growth” that has him dreaming “with Buck-like optimism.”

That could include expanding the museum, and thus, the story of the Negro Leagues that should never be forgotten.

“When we say every buck counts,” Kendrick said with a smile, “we mean it.”

O’Neil’s plaque will be transported to the museum on Aug. 12 for anyone to see in person, and it will also be on display at Kauffman Stadium on Aug. 13 as part of the Royals’ Salute to the Negro Leagues game against the Dodgers. The Royals will be clad in 1945 Kansas City Monarchs jerseys, and the Dodgers will wear the Brooklyn Dodgers’ 1947 jerseys to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier.