Many years ago my wife and I were driving around Kansas City looking for something to do. We decided to check out one of the areas most under appreciated attractions, The Negro League Baseball Museum.
There were only a couple other people in the museum that day, and we were having a good time looking at the displays and reading about baseball history. Well at least I was, and my wife Aileen was being a good sport as she usually is.
We were only there for a few minutes when in walked through the door, the legenday Negro League Baseball player Buck O’Neil. Buck passed away in 2006, but would have been 100 years old next month.
I knew my opportunity would only last a few minutes so I ran to the gift shop and bought a baseball to ask Mr. O’Neil if he would sign it for me. He was gracious to say the least, and was happy to sign the ball. Bucks hands were so big that it looked like he was signing a golf ball, and I imagined that he could have played the game without a glove. He was definetly in his element, and enjoyed visiting with fans who were there that day.
Several years later when he passed away, it was amazing to see how the city came together to pay tribute to man who was truly an ambassador for Kansas City and baseball. One week to the day he passed, I was working as an Auctioneer for a local childrens charity. Someone from the organization had donated a signed Buck O’Neil baseball. It was impossible to describe the energy in the room that day when we sold that ball. I can tell you though that it was electrifying and I was glad to be part of it.
I still own my signed Buck O’Neil ball, and enjoy the memory that comes to life when I glance at it in my office. For me it was a great day. For Buck, it was probably just another day for a man who loved Kansas City, baseball, and people.
Life is good – pass it on!