05/26/2006 4:07 PM - KANSAS CITY -Tuesday night, the Kansas City T-Bones paid homage to a man who is one of the most beloved in baseball history. The T-Bones retired uniform number 22 in honor of baseball legend John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil, and the uniform number and name of O'Neil were unveiled on the left field wall. Other baseball greats were present to show their support for O'Neil, and a donation was made to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum by CommunityAmerica Credit Union.
O'Neil had a lengthy career in baseball as a player, scout, and coach. At every stop, he stood above the rest. As a player, he spent nearly two decades with the Kansas City Monarchs and led the Negro American League in hitting in 1946 with a .353 average. O'Neil followed his playing career with a successful tenure as a scout in which he was responsible for the signing of Hall of Famers Lou Brock and Ernie Banks. As well, O'Neil was the first black coach in major league history, with the Cubs in 1962.
ONeil has continued to serve baseball as its greatest ambassador, and he is the Board Chairman of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo. A tireless crusader for the recognition of former Negro Leaguers into the Hall of Fame, O'Neil was thrilled when seventeen Negro League figures were elected to the Hall. Baseball fans in Kansas City and around the country, however, were heartbroken: O'Neils name was not on the list.
In an effort to right this wrong, the T-Bones are spearheading an effort to obtain 100,000 signatures on a petition requesting the immediate induction of O'Neil into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
"Buck O'Neil is a legend who is beloved around the country," said T-Bones Owner and President John Ehlert (pictured, with O'Neil). "It is a tremendous shame that he didnt achieve election to the Hall of Fame. We need to get him there."
Fans who would like to sign the petition may do so at any home T-Bones game this summer. It is not necessary to attend a T-Bones game to show your support, however; fans may also sign the petition at the T-Bones' gift shop, the Meat Locker, during the hours of 9 am-5 pm Monday-Friday and 10 am-4 pm on Saturdays.
ONeil will also be the guest of honor this summer at the Northern Leagues All-Star Luncheon, taking place at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center at 11:30 am on July 18. For more information, please contact the T-Bones at (913)328-BALL (2255) or visit www.tbonesbaseball.com.
Please click here to view pictures from the ceremony.