Once Again, Baseball Has Shown It’s Ugly Side

By Gregory Moore
Updated: October 8, 2006

One of the most gentle men in baseball, Buck O'Neil passes away without giving his own enshrinement speech at Cooperstown.

One of the most gentle men in baseball, Buck O'Neil passes away without giving his own enshrinement speech at Cooperstown.

SAN ANTONIO – A few months ago, Buck O’Neil gave a great speech about the seventeen former Negro league players to those who attended this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.

And for another year, the voters who comprise of the Cooperstown shrine decided to note enshrine O’Neil.

Well, the unthinkable has happened for many who have enjoyed listening to Buck re-tell the stories of when the Negro League thrived and great players both known and unknown graced the face of baseball.

Buck O’Neil has passed away and joined his friends this weekend and as tragic as that may be, what is even more tragic is the fact that the Baseball Writers Association, the very group that enshrines those who played the game has made a travesty of the 17 former members enshrined now because they did not include the two most living legends of that league; O’Neil and Minnie Minoso.

I cannot think of any sadder time in history in which something so tragic in sports has happened by an association not doing it’s job than what is now before us.

Ever since Ken Burns’ baseball documentaries have aired on PBS and HBO, America has learned of the brave men and women who played in the Negro leagues.

American history rarely does any justice in our schools of actually teaching our youth about some of the rich and storied figures that make up this country. It is no surprise that in many history books, a few pages at the most are given to Blacks and their contributions to American sports.

When it comes to depicting the stories of players who played in the Negro leagues, schools do not even spend enough time on these fighters of segregation that is adequate enough to understand appreciate what they did for the game of baseball today.

So that is left up to the writers who cover America’s pastime.

Well these so-called story tellers of the game have flubbed the biggest story of 2006 and now in 2007 they will posthumously put O’Neil in. it’s utterly embarrassing and if there is a segment out there that says once again segregation by baseball has slammed the door shut on a contributor to the game, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

The continued bias that pervades the Baseball Writers’ Association of America is one of the very reasons why so many do not even trust that organization. The criteria for being eligible to vote are pompous if not downright elitist.

The fact that they can put anyone in the game they feel is deserving and use social issues in that person’s past, as exclusion is something that is just abhorrent in journalism. But why should I be surprised?

This is the same organization who thinks it is their job to police who comes in the Hall of Fame.

Well policing has now given way to an embarrassment that should hang with this organization and Major League Baseball like somebody’s soiled unmentionables.

The stench that is in the air this week should hang for a few months so that America sees what happens when you simply do not do the right thing and pay a person due respect when they are living.

This is a sad day for many who believed that O’Neil would give his own induction speech when he was enshrined. For many of us, we thought this day would have happened years and years ago but that simply didn’t happen.

Now that day will never come because a man who has been so humble about his own life and his background as a Negro leaguer is no longer with us.

On that fateful day in July of this year, Buck O’Neil gave the baseball world one of the best reasons why he needed be included with those seventeen individual who were enshrined that warm summer day.

This week we are now going to read from members of the BBWAA how they had wished Buck could have enjoyed his day in the sun.

Well that’s a nice gesture but when you are the organization who can make such a thing happen, it’s a little sanctimonious and hollow now.

Buck O’Neil deserved better from the writers and storytellers who are voters in the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. He was gracious in helping them over the years and the least they could have done was been thankful and made him one of the hallowed members when he was living.