O'Neil, Buck

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

O'Neil, Buck

Buck O'Neil (John Jordan O'Neil), 1911–2006, African-American baseball player and coach, b. Carrabelle, Fla. One of the stars of the Negro leagues, he began playing semipro baseball at 12, and his career came to span seven decades. An outstanding clutch hitter and skilled first baseman, O'Neil led the league in batting in 1940 and again in 1946 after serving inthe Navy. After retiring as a player, he managed the Monarchs from 1948 to 1955 and led them to five pennants and two Black World Series. More than 20 players he managed, including Ernie Banks and Elston Howard, became major leaguers when baseball finally integrated. In 1953 O'Neil was hired by the Chicago Cubs as a scout, and in 1962 he became the first African-American major-league coach. The founding chairman (1997–2006) of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

See his autobiography, I Was Right on Time (1997); biography by S. D. Wheelock (1997).

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