Hall of Shame
March 3, 2006 5:17 AM   Subscribe

Buck O'Neil, 94, was a star player for the Kansas City Monarchs, of the The Negro Leagues, the first black coach hired by Major League Baseball, one of the founders and current Board Chairman of The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, a scout, who signed such stars as Ernie Banks, and Lou Brock, was denied his last chance to enter baseball's Hall of Fame this week. Considered by many to be the unofficial " Ambassador of Baseball", Buck was most diplomatic in his response, saying: "Shed no tears for Buck," he says. "No, no. Ol' God's been good to me. You can see that, don't you? If I'm a Hall of Famer for you, that's all I need. Just keep loving ol' Buck." ", and " You think about this,' he said. "Here I am, the grandson of a slave. And here the whole world was excited about whether I was going into the Hall of Fame or not. We've come a long ways. Before, we never even thought about anything like that. America, you've really grown and you're still growing." Keith Olbermann is outraged...I am just sad.
posted by lobstah (37 comments total)

 
Everyone who's seen Ken Burns' Baseball will recognize Buck. He's got enough charisma for four people. As soon as he smiled, I wished he was he was my great uncle or something so I could visit with him and listen to him talk.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:24 AM on March 3, 2006


Mr. O'Neil seems to be one of the truly good people. He's always upbeat and ready with a good word. We met him at a Royals game and chatted a bit. What a lovely nice man. He deserved this. How sad.
posted by damnitkage at 5:25 AM on March 3, 2006


here is the Ken Burns' Baseball
interview in text .
posted by lobstah at 5:30 AM on March 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


It is not merely indefensible. For all the many stupid things the Baseball Hall of Fame has ever done... This is the worst.

If this was withholding the election to a Hall of Fame of basketball, this might draw some outrage. Sadly, baseball isn't the king of sports that it once was in America. Buck sounds like a class act who also has his priorities and perspective straight. It's not the end of the world, and it says a ton more about the people who make up that committee than it ever will about the talents of Mr. O'Neil. Maybe somebody will write a song about him.
posted by spock at 5:36 AM on March 3, 2006


i guess a joke along the lines of "i'm not your monkey" is a bit dangerous in this case, what with the the racial overtones being inappropriate and all...

damn, this man is gracious. he'll be in my hall of fame.
posted by lapolla at 5:39 AM on March 3, 2006


argh, wait, i just tried the hyperlink i put in that last comment, and it takes me to microsoft site - what the hell? it's supposed to be a reference to this metafilter thread:

http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/49549
posted by lapolla at 5:42 AM on March 3, 2006


For some reason whenever a link starts with "http://http://" it redirects to the M$ web site.
posted by clevershark at 5:55 AM on March 3, 2006


He's in my HoF, which is by far more selective and objective than that collection of poltroons.
posted by Fezboy! at 5:58 AM on March 3, 2006


I think both Buck and Minnie Minoso got robbed.
posted by Parlour Tricks at 6:13 AM on March 3, 2006


His snub was the first thing that went through my mind when I saw the list of inductees. I have no idea why this group of unknowns (to me) can be characterized as a 'collection of poltroons.' But, it IS completely incomprehensible to me that this man, who probably did more to raise the popular awareness of Negro League Baseball than ANYONE, was left out.
posted by sfts2 at 6:17 AM on March 3, 2006


And to honor the Negro Leagues, that committee also elected two white owners, J.L. Wilkinson of the Kansas City Monarchs and Effa Manley of the Newark Eagles

Looks pretty bad if you ask me.
posted by j-urb at 6:24 AM on March 3, 2006


Gregg Jefferies received two votes two get into the hall of fame. Surely that is enough information to realize that the system is absurd.
posted by 8 Bit at 6:37 AM on March 3, 2006


For some reason whenever a link starts with "http://http://" it redirects to the M$ web site.

Hmmm. Let me guess which crap web browser you are using.
posted by spock at 6:46 AM on March 3, 2006


Last night, Olbermann made some references about the powers that be at the HOF getting their feathers ruffled by Buck's efforts to start the Negro Leagues HOF.
posted by lobstah at 6:51 AM on March 3, 2006


Many years ago, when I took my sons to Cooperstown, I was a young divorced dad, trying to make a memorable day on a summer vacation trip with my boys. It seemed like things were going pretty well for the first few hours, until my younger son started asking about the process for players getting into the HoF. After a number of his questions were answered by some HoF personnel and other visitors, he seemed to get pretty fidgety, and acted like he was ready to leave. We were only about 2/3 of the way through the place, but as it was near lunch time, I asked him and his brother what they wanted to do about lunch and the rest of the day, and he was all for foregoing the rest of the exhibits, grabbing some lunch, and heading for Niagara Falls. So I asked him directly why he'd gotten so "done" with the HoF, as to not want to finish going through it.

Ever one to ferret out a single atom of bullshit in any perfume factory, he said, simply, "Dad, really. This place is about the pickers, not the players."

As usual, he wasn't wrong.
posted by paulsc at 7:08 AM on March 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


I would like to see that great ballplayer inducted if onlyh so I would not have to see/hear Olberman and his paper-ripping antics.
posted by Postroad at 7:11 AM on March 3, 2006


I would not have to see/hear Olberman and his paper-ripping antics.

I would submit that what the U.S. needs more of is media people with the capacity to demonstrate outrage. There are topics of much greater consequence than this one that deserve it.
posted by spock at 7:18 AM on March 3, 2006


here is the Ken Burns' Baseball interview in text .

Thanks. One of the best things I've ever read.
posted by a_day_late at 7:30 AM on March 3, 2006


Hmmm. Let me guess which crap web browser you are using.

Let me guess what conclusion you jumped to. This happens in Firefox. When directed to what doesn't look like a normal address in Firefox, it does a Google 'I'm Feeling Lucky' search for the word. In this case, the word is http, which has has Microsoft at #1. Some speculation on why this is in this AskMe question.

posted by zsazsa at 7:31 AM on March 3, 2006


Why baseball sucks: Too much Barry Bonds, too little Buck O'Neill.
posted by tommasz at 7:52 AM on March 3, 2006


For some reason whenever a link starts with "http://http://" it redirects to the M$ web site.

Hmmm. Let me guess which crap web browser you are using.
posted by spock at 8:46 AM CST on March 3 [!]


You are correct, the crap browser is Firefox. That's what you meant, right?

In Internet Explorer, you simply get ye olde standard "page cannot be displayed".

Tool.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:53 AM on March 3, 2006


paulsc's son hits it out of the park.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:57 AM on March 3, 2006


I just emailed this to Mr. Olbermann:

I admit to not being much of a Baseball historian, but just from your commentary and other accounts I have read online I consider this to be a travesty.

And is there, really, any doubt as to why he was not elected?

If all of his accomplishments were ignored EXCEPT for him being the first black coach in the majors, that ALONE is worthy of him being elected to the HoF.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:05 AM on March 3, 2006


So, the only really good Negro League Baseball players are dead Negro League Baseball players?
Is that some kind of coincidence?
posted by the Real Dan at 8:10 AM on March 3, 2006


sfts2 writes "I have no idea why this group of unknowns (to me) can be characterized as a 'collection of poltroons.' "

The electors/HoF, not the other candidates, are letting their poltroon flag fly. Sorry for the lack of clarity.
posted by Fezboy! at 8:50 AM on March 3, 2006


Buck should just go play a nice chill game of Wiffle ball with the Sex Pistols.
posted by hellbient at 8:54 AM on March 3, 2006


There are topics of much greater consequence than this one that deserve it.

That would be my first reaction too, Spock, but then again it is possible to be "outraged" and/or care passionately about more than one thing at a time, no?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:04 AM on March 3, 2006


Last night, Olbermann made some references about the powers that be at the HOF getting their feathers ruffled by Buck's efforts to start the Negro Leagues HOF.

The thing is that this committee was created just to look at people related to the Negro Leaguers, and it consisted mainly of baseball scholars and such. So unlike every other HOF committee, it did not represent the Powers That Be.

Not that that made it fair and open. Historically the old Veterans Committee, when it was small and met behind closed doors, was a body for electing the friends and former teammates of people in that body. Most all of the terrible choices for the HOF, the Freddie Lindstrom's of the world, got in this way. There's plenty of reason to think that this worked in a similar way.
posted by nflorin at 9:15 AM on March 3, 2006


I don't even follow baseball, but I think paulsc's son nailed it in one.

As a total and complete outsider to the sport, with my primary info being the links and comments in this post, I have to say that I find his exclusion to be outrageous, especially when white owners were selected instead.

That said, Mr. O'Neil seems like a gentleman and exemplifies the statesmanship and sportsmanship I would like to see in athletes. (But probably doesn't exist in modern sports.)
posted by dejah420 at 9:43 AM on March 3, 2006


Wow paulsc, you have a briliant kid. I feel very sad for Buck. He's one person who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Bastards. There's been a commercial running lately on local TV where players (former and current) and coaches for the Royals say "This is Kansas City". I think the commercial is for the Royals. Anyway, there's Buck saying the same line and it just boggles my mind every time I see it. He didn't coach for the Royals did he? Or am I wrong?

Anyway, bastards. Buck sent more Negro League players to the "majors" than most people, giving us Jackie Robinson et al. For that, he should be made a saint and then placed in the Hall of Fame.
posted by sleepy pete at 10:17 AM on March 3, 2006


Not sure what the controversy is about. He was a good (not great) player in the Negro Leagues. He was an good manager in the Negro Leagues. He was a coach in MLB for 3 years, and a scout for several more. Given the history and the dubious inclusion of other oldtimers, maybe he belongs, but I certainly don't think this is a travesty of justice or an unprecedented snub. Politics may play a part, but they do for almost every induction. Just ask Pete Rose.

Minnie Minoso has far more reason to be upset. He almost has the credentials to be in the HoF without taking into account that he couldn't play MLB until he was 27.
posted by loquax at 10:57 AM on March 3, 2006


Hmmm. Let me guess which crap web browser you are using.

Offtopic: It's firefox.
posted by delmoi at 12:37 PM on March 3, 2006


Anyway, there's Buck saying the same line and it just boggles my mind every time I see it. He didn't coach for the Royals did he? Or am I wrong?

He scouted for them.
posted by loquax at 12:43 PM on March 3, 2006


Thanks, loquax. I figured he probably did something for them, but his appearance always causes a huge disconnect.

I would also say that you're right about Minoso, but Buck is so revered in this part of the country by those who care, that it's just shocking and as a friend just wrote, it's always amazing to find out someone from your neck of the woods is so famous. Also, Buck won pennants as a player and coach, he was the first black coach in the majors, and (again, at least around here) when most people think of the Negro League Hall of Fame they think of Buck O'Neil. So I'll say that Buck AND Minnie were robbed.
posted by sleepy pete at 1:04 PM on March 3, 2006


Buck himself, is upset about Minoso. He says that Minoso deserves to be inducted the old fashioned way. That was one of the first points he made during an interview last night with KO.
posted by lobstah at 2:57 PM on March 3, 2006


Sigh. Press a button, get automatic outrage. It's sad.

The 12 members of the panel were charged to fix the fact that too few Negro Leaguers were in the Hall of Fame. They were charged with selecting the players and others who contributed the most to the Negro Leagues and its predecessors.

The fact is that Buck O'Neill was not a great player. He was a good player, but virtually no one thinks he had a Hall of Fame playing career. He also had a reputation as a good manager, but he only got to manager when the Negro Leagues were on their last legs, because most of their talent had joined the major leagues.

Now by what measure can anyone argue that O'Neill deserves to be elected to the Hall as a Negro Leaguer?

A lot of arguments seem to come down to the fact that Buck is a great guy and has great stories to tell. That seems like a pretty lame argument.

Now there is a very good argument for Buck O'Neill getting into the Hall. But it isn't what most people are arguing. Buck was the first black coach in the major leagues. He was one of the very first black scouts, and he has a great record ofsigning talent, including two Hall of Famers he signed two Hall of Famers, Lou Brock and Ernie Banks, and others such as Lee Smith, Oscar Gamble, and Joe Carter. He helped further the cause of baseball integration by finding black talent on black teams who might never have been found by other scouts.

And there's no reason to ignore O'Neill's remarkakable efforts to teach later generations about the Negro leagues and as an ambassador for baseball. The Negro League Museum, for example, probably wouldn't exist without him. And he's accomplished a lot of that type of thing. You add those things to his career as a player and amanager and you certainly have a very good case for electing him to the Hall.

But most of this happened after the end of the Negro Leagues. The Committee was told to elect the best and most important people of the Negro Leagues. And Buck simply wasn't one of them.

Now, you can certainly argue that the committee should have looked at Buck from a larger perspective. And most of the committee did; I've heard that he received 8 votes, one short of what was needed for election.

But there's no justification for attacking the committee. They went in and did the best job they could. Unlike many other Hall voting committees, they didn't go there to elect their friends. If they had, Buck would've have received 12 votes, because every one of them knows Buck, and everyone who knows Buck is enthralled by him. But the committee chose to vote their conscience.

Evidently, these days, doing that is a call for attacks and ridicule.

I like Keith Olbermann, but he's acting like a complete putz with regard to this. He's threatening to unjoin SABR because 9 of the 12 committee members are SABR members also. In other words, he thinks the fact that probably 2 or 3 of SABR's 7000 members chose not to vote for O'Neill means that the organization has somehow tainted itself. That's some logic.

And it would have been ridiculous for this committee to elect Minnie Minoso. Now, I think Minoso deserves to be elected to the Hall. But he deserves election as a major league, not for his very brief tour in the Negro Leagues.

As far as all these comments on the two white people elected, here are the facts. One, Effa Manley, lived her entire life as a black woman. The fact we know know that her father was not her biological father does not change what she did for the Negro Leagues and her community. The other white person, JL Wilkinson, he put together the Nergo Leagues' greatest team, the Kansas City Monarchs, as well as the Negro National League itself. He was the manager as well as an owner. He signed Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, Bill Foster, Willie Wells, Joe Rogan, Turkey Stearnes, Hilton Smith and Jackie Robinson. He invented a portable lighting system in 1930 with which the Monarchs were able to play night ball years before the major leagues tried. Oh, and he roomed - and shared his bed, since there were rarely enough beds - with Buck O'Neill, who became Wilkinson's best friend. O'Neil has said that during his lifetime he has only known two men who were totally unprejudiced - his father and JL Wilkinson.
posted by spira at 4:28 PM on March 3, 2006 [2 favorites]


Maybe the SABR voters were confused between Buck O'Neil, and the Buck O'Neill you speak of. :)
Sometimes a person transcends the statistics, and their greatness is not always easy to quantify mathematically. How can anyone say they " voted their conscience" when they failed to consider the body of work in whole? " They did the best they could" is a weak argument, and sounds defensive to me.
posted by lobstah at 4:58 AM on March 4, 2006


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