The Hall Of Really Good

Hall of Really Good #10: Buck O'Neil

We here at the Hall of Really Good understand that the game of baseball is about more than dingers and sick K’s. It’s about class, something that I’m afraid the other Hall of Celebrity Ballfolk must have forgotten about a long time ago.

What happened to class? What happened to grace? What happened to dare I say it, playing the game the right way, and representing not just the name on the back of the uniform, or even the name on the front of the uniform? What happened to men who had to represent the color of their own skin, man?


Let’s be clear, I never watched Buck O’Neil play. I only watched him shine.

Talking about Josh Gibson, White Josh Gibson (Babe Ruth), and Bo Jackson. Magical. I was introduced to Buck O’Neil in my early teenage years, when he lapped the field for MVP of Ken Burn’s 273 hour PBS documentary on baseball. Such wisdom.

With a warm voice, the old man spun tales of glory that even in the midst of the strike that would cancel the 1994 season. Our hearts were black with contempt for baseball and the greed, but Buck O’Neil helped to wash that away, and painted a picture of innocence. Listen to him talk about the start of his career.

They’re just kids playing a game out there, man.

Plus, and I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but back then the Negro League players had to deal with something more insidious than your average player today.



Turns out, back in the day, America was hella racist. Who knew. Now some of your older venues like Fenway Park will keep up the tradition, but you have to seek it out. Not so in the 30's and 40's. It would have been easy to become poisoned by the vile taunts, but Buck kept things in perspective. Even notorious players such as Ty Cobb.

Now while, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier toward the end of O’Neil’s playing career, our honoree today never made the transition, ending his playing career in 1950, during the twilight of the Negro League. He secured a job as a scout for the Cubs, and did some legendary work, but the other hall would not come knocking, ignoring his invaluable contributions to the game.


But then out of nowhere, the upstate hall decided to induct 16 Negro League players. Buck was nearing the end of his remarkable life. Surely this would be the fitting end to a career dedicated to not only baseball, but to humanity.

Hey, why are we honoring him here? Isn’t one of the qualifications that you can’t be in that other hall? Surely they didn’t miss this slow roller to first base?


(Sigh) Okay. Let’s watch an old man get stood up.

Do you feel good about yourself, Cooperstown? You made an old man feel bad. Look at all those people there with him, waiting for the call that never came. You couldn’t let this man into your stupid club? Did you not just hear how much it would have meant to him. No, you watch that clip again.

How dare you. 


I don’t speak for Buck O’Neil. I’m not as pure. Not as easy to turn the other cheek. Nobody would argue for my place in your stupid Hall. I’m just a man. Buck’s got more class than me, and certainly more class than you.

He came to your stupid show. And he graced his ass off. My God. What hath you wrought? Have you no shame? Buck O’Neil doesn’t make your precious hall, but Tris Speaker is in? A man with ties to the Ku Klux Klan? I bet hearing that somebody like Buck O’Neil would be denied entry gets his decaying dick hard.


And now he’s dead.

You make me sick. I hope someday somebody takes the thing you love most, and breaks it in front of you and your family.


But here at the Hall of Really Good, character means something. Here, Buck plays with the immortals, turning sick double plays and socking dingers off the best the game had to offer. His career remains shrouded in mystery with the other Negro League players. Josh Gibson once hit a ball 600 feet. Satchel Paige once struck out 9 batters on 27 pitches. And Buck O’Neil raked three triples and a homer, and then played the trombone backing up Dizzy Gillespie after a game in Kansas City.

He also lost two years to World War II. Fighting Hitler. All before desegregation. Let it never be said that the Hall of Really Good does not support the troops. Unlike some other assholes.


Buck O’Neil doesn’t need your accolades. He had a pretty damn great career. Actually, hold up, I see his stats are posted online.


Hm. That’s...actually not that remarkable. I mean when you reduce a man down to his numbers, like that. He really didn’t play very many games. And, I’m sure there was some questionable talent in the Negro Leagues. They weren’t all Satchel Paige.

This is a goddamn bummer. I need something to pick me up.

There it is. Goddamn it, Cooperstown. You couldn’t let this guy in?

Well, you’re good with us. The Hall of Really Good where things like ethics and character mean a damn. Tune in next time when we enshrine Curt Schilling.


Buck O’Neil, you were really good.

Pink Skull has nothing of his own that he wishes to promote, however when he feels like not sticking to sports he enjoys the literary styling of, a dipshit literary blogger who thinks his stories are profound or something.

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