Monarchs pay tribute to Buck O’Neil at Legends Field
KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) — The celebrations for baseball legend Buck O’Neil finally getting inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame keep coming.
Wednesday night at Legends Field in KCK, the Kansas City Monarchs retired his number and inducted him into the Monarchs Hall of fame during a special ceremony just days after he was posthumously inducted into the nation’s Baseball Hall of Fame.
The logo for the modern-day Monarchs is a tribute to the Kansas City Negro Leagues team that Buck O’Neil played for and later managed.
“Great to have a legacy like that in our town,” said Kevin Weiss, a fan attending the game. “He has been an asset to everybody, great person as a human being, as a ballplayer, as a scout. Everything he’s ever done has been top notch.”
National names like documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and sports announcer Bob Costas delivered video messages about the legend who fell one vote short of being inducted in 2006, just months before he died.
“We are just so happy and pleased to be out here to celebrate this momentous occasion and happy to see it finally come to fruition,” said Jill Hall, who came specifically for the tribute game along with a group connected to historically Black Greek letter organizations.
“He deserved it, and he deserved it for a long time, so I’m glad he did it,” said Monarchs fan Terry Crawshaw. “Too bad he’s not here to know that it happened to him.”
That’s what the president of the Negro Leagues Museum thought on his way up to Cooperstown. It was a bittersweet feeling. Then, he arrived in town and his mood shifted.
“You could feel his spirit throughout that entire weekend.
There were so many Monarch jerseys walking around. People with Monarchs caps. Buck O’Neil this, Buck O’Neil that,” described Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick.
Kendrick said Buck had a spirit of love and joy that transferred to all he was around. As the honors concluded in Cooperstown on Sunday and Buck’s plaque was revealed, Kendrick got to thinking maybe the honors weren’t late. In some ways, he realized, they came right on time.
“His number was 22. He gets inducted in 2022,” Kendrick said. “And it’s at a time when the Negro Leagues Baseball museum like everyone else has started the process of recovering from a pandemic. And to have Buck O’Neil’s induction as a springboard to an opportunity now to grow his institution, I’m not sure the timing could have been any better.”
On Friday, the museum will be announcing a fundraising effort called “Thanks a Million Buck.” The campaign has an eventual goal for an education center at the site in Kansas City where the Negro Leagues began more than a century ago.
Stay with KCTV5 for specifics to come on Friday.
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