Score One For Negro League Old Timers

Updated: May 11, 2006



They suffered

the Indignity of

never being allowed to

play MLB Baseball because

they were Black

On Wednesday a contentious even historic lawsuit was decided. Known as Moran vs. Selig, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower Court ruling that Major League Baseball was not guilty of discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in providing special benefits to elderly former Negro League players which consists of medical insurance and about $1000 a month.

1000 white former MLB players with brief careers who did not meet MLB’s requirements for pension or medical benefits charged Baseball with discriminating against them in not offering the same benefits as to Negro League players. There are about 2 dozen former Negro League players still alive who receive this Benefit.

The white former players and their lawyers charged the program amounted to pension benefits provided by MLB under the meaning of the law. MLB and the 30 teams responded the benefits the former Negro League players are receiving is not a “pension” but ….

…… a special payment to try and make up for the discrimination they suffered never given the right to play Major League Baseball. And that since it was thus impossible to determine which former Negro League players would have had long MLB careers and easily qualified for full pension benefits these special payments are a (very modest) attempt to make amends.

Here is what the Court write in its Decision …

“MLB’s absolute ban on African American players before 1947 impeded those players from accumulating the necessary years of service in the major leagues to qualify for the medical and pension benefits under the terms of the MLB benefits plan in effect at the time,”


End of Story

Now a different kind of Story

about one of those

Negro League Beneficiaries

of this Program

Buck O’Neil

Since the energetic 94 year old O’Neil was not selected by the Negro League MLB Hall of Fame Committee, the absolute surprise of many by his absence from the List has fueled criticism and controversy ever since.

Because this “distinguished” 12 member Committee saw fit in February to name 17 Negro League standouts to the Baseball Hall of Fame but a majority “simply” could not find room on their Ballot for Buck O’Neil.

Superficially the rationale for the Committee’s rejection was that O’Neil credentials as a player in the Negro Leagues was not up to the Hall of Fame “standard.” How stupid is that and open to suspicion there was another agenda.

Call it Back Stabbing or

Pay Back Time

The fact is Buck O’Neil’s credentials to merit induction to the Hall is based on a TRIPLE play no other African American can claim. Maybe if he simply played for a few years and disappeared maybe he would not have been worthy.

Then again

He won the Negro League Batting Championship. He was a Negro League All Star. He started in 2 Negro League World Series. He was a player manager with one of the most famous teams in Negro League history the Kansas City Monarchs. And led them to the Negro League World Championship.

And then ….

Major League Baseball and ALL its teams which finally had African Americans on their rosters still resisted the obvious next step to name African American coaches. It took the sterling qualities of Buck O’Neil to finally break through that Barrier when he was hired in 1962 by the Chicago Cubs as a Coach. A Monumental First !!

And then ….

For the last few decades no one NO ONE has been more active or visible nationally bringing attention and appreciation to the Negro Leagues. And as the spokesman and literally the face of the Negro League Museum in Kansas City. There is no way there would be as much interest in the African American players of the Negro League were it not for the tireless efforts of Buck O’Neil. Going strong still at 94..

Buck O’Neil is the living

Personification of

The Negro Leagues

So how could the Committee turn against him.

Especially since it is bering said that among the Committee itself during discussions no one voiced any criticism of O’Neil for induction into the Hall.

It is virtually certain he lost out in a very close vote although that information has not been released. Various journalist who have investigated the issue conclude that Buck O’Neil had personal enemies on the Committee who swayed the vote against him.


impure & simple

Their way of paying him back for real or perceived slights they believe O’Neil was responsible. That though was probably not enough. What else was at work seems to be that ever present human failing Envy. There is no doubt among the post Negro League “hierarchy” some resent O’Neil’s showmanship and the spotlight almost always shining on him at the Museum and around the Country.

It isn’t clear when another

Negro Leagues

Baseball Hall of Fame Committee

will be created

O’Neil’s best revenge will be to

live to 100 or more

becoming even more famous

and being inducted into

The Hall of Fame.

Whenever you want to reach us with comments or better yet an idea for a topic for the Box …….