Legendary Cubs coach, instructor, and scout Buck O’Neil has been named an inductee to the 2022 Baseball Hall of Fame class.
O’Neil joins Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Olivia, and Bud Fowler among those selected by the Hall’s Golden Days and Early Baseball Era Committees.
O’Neil originally joined the Cubs as a scout in 1955 and later earned a promotion to the Major League coaching staff in 1962, making him the first Black coach to serve on an AL or NL roster.
Among his most notable accomplishments? Signing Hall of Famer Lou Brock.
“It’s no wonder that baseball is considered America’s pastime. Buck was one of its architects. He helped shape the game,” said Brock. “But even greater, he shaped the character of young Black men. He touched the heart of everyone who loved the game. He gave us all a voice that could be heard on and off the field. We who were close to him will forever seek to walk in the shade of his shadow.”– Lou Brock on Buck O’Neil
O’Neil returned to scouting in 1964. He eventually signed future Hall of Famer Lee Smith.
He was the driving force behind the creation of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and served as the first chairman when it opened in 1990.
O’Neil passed away in 2006 at the age of 94. He played, managed, coached, scouted, and served as an executive for nearly eight decades.
Before his passing, he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush. Two years later, a Buck O’Neil statue was dedicated in the Hall of Fame, and the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award was established.
“I patterned my life after Buck O’Neil. He was a marvelous man. Buck had so much love for everybody, in my life I became the same way. Hey, let’s play two. Buck was a role model for my life. He was the greatest ambassador for the game.”– Ernie Banks at Buck O’Neil’s funeral
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