Author Topic: Buck O'Neil Awarded Medal of Freedom  (Read 662 times)

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Offline Senators2005

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Buck O'Neil Awarded Medal of Freedom
« Topic Start: December 16, 2006, 06:11:20 PM »
ASSOCIATED PRESS

1:55 p.m. December 15, 2006

WASHINGTON ? Buck O'Neil was posthumously awarded the nation's highest civilian honor Friday, cited for a life in baseball after being barred from the national pastime in his prime.  The Negro Leagues player, historian and advocate was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a White House ceremony, less than three months after he died at age 94.

   


O'Neil missed election to the Hall of Fame by one vote in February, yet never lost his enthusiasm for the sport. In July, he appeared in the Northern League all-star game, making him the oldest man ever to play professional baseball.
?They wisely pitched around him and he drew a walk,? President Bush joked.

In a 40-minute ceremony under the glittering chandeliers of the East Room, Bush lauded O'Neil for helping break down the barriers of racial prejudice.

Jackie Robinson broke the major league color barrier in 1947, but by then it was too late for O'Neil.

?Buck O'Neil lived long enough to see baseball and America change for the better,? Bush told the assembled audience. ?He's one of the people we can thank for that. Buck O'Neil was a legend and a beautiful human being and we honor the memory of Buck O'Neil.?

Warren O'Neil accepted the medal on his brother's behalf. The 91-year-old O'Neil nodded his head and smiled slightly as the audience applauded, then raised his hand to briefly wave at blues great B.B. King, one of the other award recipients.

Bush presented Buck O'Neil's medal to Warren O'Neil in a wooden case.

Sitting in the audience, Bob Kendrick, director of marketing for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., said he felt ?a little melancholy? wishing Buck was there.

?He would have lit that room up,? Kendrick said. ?He had this amazing charisma unlike anybody I've ever encountered. We know that his spirit was there and Warren represented his brother very well.?

Also watching the ceremony was Warren O'Neil's son, Frank, along with Frank's wife and daughter. Buck O'Neil's niece and a contingent of officials from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum also attended.

Kendrick said the honor ?would have represented the pinnacle for him. He prided himself on being more than just a baseball player.?

Bush spoke of O'Neil's storied career, which included joining the Negro Leagues in 1938 as a first baseman for the Kansas City Monarchs.

O'Neil won two batting titles and played on nine championship teams. As a manager, he guided the Monarchs to four league titles.

After his Negro Leagues career, O'Neil joined the Chicago Cubs as a scout and later became the first black coach of a major league team.

The driving force behind creation of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, O'Neil earned worldwide fame in 1994 after historian Ken Burns featured him in the documentary ?Baseball.?

In the final years of his life, Bush said, O'Neil was considered ?one of the game's best historians and ambassadors.?

Bush did not mention the ill-fated vote in February, when O'Neil was expected to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame along with other Negro Leagues and pre-Negro League figures. O'Neil was not among the 16 men and one woman selected.

The Medal of Freedom was established by President Truman in 1945 to honor civilians for their efforts during World War II. The award was reinstated by President Kennedy in 1963 to honor high achievement in public service, science, the arts, education, athletics and other fields.

Offline natsfan1a

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Re. Buck O'Neil Awarded Medal of Freedom
« Reply #1: December 28, 2006, 08:25:12 AM »
FYI, from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum site (NLBM.com). My husband and I made a donation in Mr. O'Neil's memory.

natsfan1a

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Help Build Buck's Hall

Throughout the year, thousands of people from around the country have expressed their disappointment that Buck O?Neil was not elected to the Hall of Fame and have asked how they can help recognize Buck?s lifetime of contributions to the game of baseball.  One of the most important things to Buck besides baseball is education.  In recognition of his contributions to the game of baseball and his tireless efforts in preserving the legacy of the Negro Leagues, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has launched the Thanks a Million Buck campaign to raise funds for the John ?Buck? O?Neil Education and Research Center.  The Education and Research Center will be part of an expansion of the Negro Leagues Museum to be built at the historic Paseo YMCA, the birthplace of the Negro Leagues.

Buck says that the Education and Research Center is ?more important to me than any Hall of Fame.?  Incorporating the latest in interactive technology and state-of-the-art research equipment, the Center will allow visitors, students, researchers, and baseball fans to study every aspect of the Negro Leagues. Currently scheduled for completion in late 2007, the renovated Paseo YMCA at 18th Street and Paseo Boulevard in Kansas City will house more than 45,000 square feet of archives, educational areas, exhibits, conference facilities and administrative offices. In addition, the Center will be home to an innovative curriculum for students from around the country to use baseball to learn about math and science.

Through your kindness and generosity, the Thanks a Million Buck campaign will help make Buck?s dream of a Hall of Education a reality.  We are attempting to raise a minimum of $1 million through individual grassroots donations towards our overall goal of $15 million to pay for the renovation of the Paseo Y and construction of Buck?s Education and Research Center. And, as Buck?s old friend Satchel Paige might have said, ?We?re in a hurry? with a goal of raising the $1 million, and hopefully more, in time for Buck?s 95th birthday celebration on Nov. 13.

There are several convenient ways to make your tax-deductible donation for Buck?s Hall of Education. You can visit us at the nation?s official Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, right in Kansas City?s historic 18th & Vine district. You can also mail a check or donate online.

Checks should be made out to
?The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum? and sent to:

The Buck O?Neil Research and Education Center
c/o Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
1616 East 18th Street
Kansas City, MO 64108  

To donate online, all you need is a major credit card. Please click on the donations box on this page to make your contribution.

Offline Senators2005

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Buck O'Neil Awarded Medal of Freedom
« Reply #2: December 28, 2006, 08:57:11 PM »
Welcome to the Nats Forum natsfan1a!  

Offline natsfan1a

  • Posts: 6512
Buck O'Neil Awarded Medal of Freedom
« Reply #3: December 29, 2006, 08:55:25 AM »
Welcome to the Nats Forum natsfan1a!

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Thanks, Senators2005. I'm happy to be here!