Football Got It Right, Baseball Needs To Do The Right Thing

By Gary Norris Gray
Updated: August 10, 2006

Buck O'neil

Buck O'neil

Warren Moon

Warren Moon

CALIFORNIA — Last week the Professional National Football League inducted Harold Warren Moon into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Moon is the First African American Quarterback to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

This should open the door for other Black quarterbacks like Marlin Brisco (Denver), Jefferson Joe Street Gilliam (Pittsburgh), James Harris (Los Ang. Rams), and Super Bowl Champion Doug Williams (Washington).
Harold Warren Moon, who was not drafted in the NFL as a quarterback, told the league in drafting team that playing under center would be the only position that he would consider.
Moon repeated his request and opted to play in the CFL for the Edmonton Eskimos. He broke every Canadian Football League passing record and won five Grey Cup championships in a row.
The NFL took notice and waited for his contract with the Eskimos to expire. Combining his numbers, Moon has passed for over 40 miles in his 21-year carrier and has thrown over 600 passes a year for three years in a row, a feat unmatched by any other professional quarterback.
Moon was one of the best African American quarterbacks in the late 80′s to early 90′s while manning the “Run and Shoot” offense. He caught many NFL defenses off guard with quick down field strikes.
Every NFL team that Moon played with improved. The fans of Houston, Kansas City, Seattle, and Minnesota were happy to see that famous No. 1 helping them make the playoffs.
But there is still one thing that Moon would’ve loved to have had, and that’s a Super Bowl appearance. He came very close, but the Buffalo Bills dashed his hopes in a 1993 AFC Wild Card contest with one of the wildest playoff games ever.
On January 10, 1993 at Rich Stadium, Buffalo overcame the largest deficit in NFL playoff history to prevail over Moon’s Oilers in overtime.Down 35-3 with 13:15 remaining in the third quarter, the Bills raillied from a 31-point deficit to win in OT.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame responded correctly when in the first year of Moon’s eligibility, he was granted membership into the their prestigious group.
Baseball need to take notice.
At the same time, Major League Baseball did not induct Negro League All Star John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil, the ambassador to the game into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Major League Baseball should be ashamed of themselves.
Mr. O’Neil taught me and many younger baseball fans about the Old Negro Leagues of the early 1900s. We knew Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and many others before many young white baseball fans could recall their names.
O’Neil taught other baseball fans about the struggles African American and Afro-Latino players endured. Segregation, oppression, and being ignored by mainstream White America.
Playing in smaller bandbox ballparks, long traveling trips on buses, not being allowed to sleep in big hotels, or motels, and not getting paid for services rendered.
The 94-year-old O’Neil is now teaching America about honor and humility, something the modern day athletes should take to heart. Hello Mr. Bonds, Mr. Palmario, Mr. Sosa, and Oakland’s Bash Brothers (Mark and Jose)
In July, he became the oldest player ever to step up to home plate in a major or minor league game, receiving two walks in the same inning Buck received a walk from each team, after a very quick trade from one too the other, this feat was accomplished.
O’ Neil went to this year’s Baseball’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony knowing that he would not be one of the honored. He continued to praise the game of baseball and was not bitter.
A mark of a true gentleman!
Mr. O’Neil is a true legacy to baseball. He played and managed for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues and then became the first African American Coach in the majors with the Chicago Cubs.
Now wherever he travels, he cannot talk enough about the game of baseball and the men who played and have played the game. “Let’s play all day”, stating playing baseball all day was even better than the famous Chicago Cubs Ernie Banks long time statement of “Let’s play two”.
Buck’s valiant efforts to get other Negro League Players into the Baseball Hall of Fame finally paid off. Today, 32 former Negro League players and officials are inshrined at Cooperstown.
Now at age 94, O’Neil is one of the few living members of the Negro Leagues being denied membership to Cooperstown. Major League Baseball should induct Mr. O’Neil into Cooperstown next year while he is alive and can speak about the wonderful history of baseball and the history of the Negro Leagues.
O’Neil played the game when Major League Baseball had a gentleman’s agreement not to hire African American players. It’s a tragic when young African Americans are not playing baseball.
It’s tragic that the steroid problem seems to plague Major League Baseball and seems to not want to go away. It’s also tragic that it seems like many baseball players still feel the need to cheat to win, to cheat to get ahead, and it seems like baseball lacks the moral leadership in the commissioner’s office for change.
Football got it right by honoring one of their best players of their game while baseball struggles with its identity. The NFL currently has seven African American head coaches, the highest number in its short history while baseball is at its lowest with only three African American head coaches and one coach on the verge of being fired any day now.
The National League has all three African American managers: Dusty Baker with the Chicago Cubs, Willie Randolph with the New York Mets, and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson with the Washington Nationals.
Football has a diversity program while baseball does not and the numbers are beginning to show the results in each sport.
Baseball need to “DO THE RIGHT THING”!!!!
Put Buck O’Neil in the Hall of Fame.
It would be the first step in recovery and the first step to reaching out a hand to young African American baseball players.