Sunday, October 08, 2006

Passing of the Buck [Robert A. George]

Guest Post from Ragged Thots:

It shouldn't be a complete shock when someone in their 90s is at last called by their Maker. Yet, the news of Negro Leagues greatBuck O'Neill's passing still feels like it.

It is a cliche to say that some people seem like they would be with us forever, but O'Neill was that type. I first met him in person several years ago when he was honored by the 100 Black Men organization. I was amazed, not only how energetic he was (given that he was nearly 90 already), but how graceful and loving of life AND COUNTRY he was. There was no trace of bitterness that might have been expected (and understood)from a man of great talent and enormous skills who was cruelly denied opportunities over his life. Instead, he took advantage of other opportunities as they arose and made a vital contribution to the game he loved and to society at large.

I was fortunate enough to briefly interview Mr. O'Neill this spring as part of the New York Post editorial page's push to get the New York Mets to name their new baseball stadium after Jackie Robinson. O'Neill demonstrated he had the wonderful gift to say the perfect phrase for the moment: With absolutely no prompting from myself, he said, "Jackie Robinson Stadium - that would be something. When they do build it, I've got to come." To anyone, the allusion to "Field of Dreams" was obvious, but it was completely natural. Needless to say, he had this buoyant lilt in his voice and it was impossible to believe that you were speaking to a man in his '90s.

As Reggie Jackson said, "What a fabulous human being.He was a blessing for all of us. I believe that people like Buck and Rachel Robinson and Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa are angels that walk on earth to give us all a greater understanding of what it means to be human. I'm not sad for him. He had a long, full life and I hope I'm as lucky, but I'm sad for us."

And shame, shame, shame on the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame for not figuring out how to honor one of the great latter-day ambassadors of the game while he was still with us.

Technorati Tags: , , ,