When I read in the newspaper that Buck O’Neil was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians on February 27…a big smile came over my face.
While I did not know Buck well, I did get to spend time with him on many occasions. Like every one else who met him, Buck was always gracious and so entertaining. He always had time for you and made you feel that no one was more important than you when you were talking with him. You simply felt better about everything going on in the world after being with Buck. He had that big smile that was infectious and warm hug that made everyone who met him feel special.
Now that smile is on display in a bust on the third floor rotunda of the Missouri State Capital in Jefferson City. If you have never been to the state capital in Missouri it is worth a trip.
Several years ago my wife and I went to Cooperstown, New York to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. If you are a baseball fan being in Cooperstown is like being in heaven. After spending most of the day in the museum, my wife and I visited some of the shops along Main Street looking for souvenirs. I met a crusty old man who owed a baseball card store and had lived in Cooperstown all his life. He started telling me stories about all the famous baseball players he had met over the years. Suddenly this short conversation turned into a full hour of discussion. When I asked him to name the nicest hall of fame ball player he had ever met…he smiled and said “you may have not heard of this guy because he is not a hall of famer, but the nicest baseball player I ever met was Buck O’Neil”. When I told him I was from KC he came around the table and gave me a hug because he said “that’s what Buck would do”.
Cooperstown unfortunately did not include Buck in the Hall of Fame but Missouri rightfully included him into the Hall of Famous Missourians. Missouri got it right. Congratulations Buck!