Buck O’Neil

Sick on Easter, the holiday pagans like me celebrate as symbolic of spring and the return of life (whether Eostre existed or not). No fair.

But I wasn’t too sick to continue my preparation for this week’s conference with two wonderful books.

First, I finally gave overdue attention to Older Daughter’s 2010 Christmas gift: We Are the Ship: the Story of Negro League Baseball, with its terrific dedication:

And, the best book about baseball that’s really about life that I’ve read in a long time: The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America makes clear just why old Buck was such an inspiration to so many. My conference presentation started out being about Satchel Paige, on the strength of Buck’s testimony that he was deeper than people knew. But it’s going to end up more about Buck, who was not only deep with self-knowledge but wide with compassion. He was a humanist, a kind and caring man who seems to have had a Midas touch for the best in people.

When Buck was inexplicably snubbed by Cooperstown, not long before his death at nearly 95, he went there anyway to lead the posthumous induction of seventeen of his old friends. And then he got everybody in the place to hold hands and sing a little refrain about love.

Why wasn’t he bitter and resentful over his exclusion, the way most of us would have been? Why didn’t he snub Cooperstown? Think about this, son. What is my life all about? He’d led the examined life. He knew.

6:45/6:40, 47/60/39

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