Buck O’Neil played professional baseball in Kansas City for 11 seasons in the late 1930s and throughout the 40s. He’s as much baseball to Missouri as the Royals themselves are.
So when the Royals ran a commercial on opening week showing O’Neil singing the great America Pastime’s anthem, it was about as good as it gets.
O’Neil never played Major League Baseball. By the time Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, O’Neil was 36 years old and on the back end of his career. Instead, he spent his entire professional career in the Negro Leagues with the Memphis Red Sox and Kansas City Monarchs.
While O’Neil passed away at 94 back in 2006, he remains a representation of the checkered past of baseball’s bygone eras. He’s also an American institution. O’Neil’s story represents the double standards of his time. He took a three-year break from the Negro League to serve in World War II.
Following his career, O’Neil would become the first African-American coach in MLB history and is credited with signing Hall of Famer Lou Brock when he was a scout for the Chicago Cubs.
That’s definitely an amazing resume right there. Though, we have to say that the late-great baseball player could also belt it. His rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” was pretty spot on. And if it didn’t send chills through even the average baseball fan, we’re not exactly sure what to say.