Monday, July 11, 2005

BUCK O'NEIL REPRESENTS THE NEGRO LEAGUE WELL

On a night Nike announced it was introducing a new line of Negro League gear, Buck O'Neil stole the show.
We were treated to one of the greatest athletes/entertainers/promoters of our century during a private get together at the Charles Wright Museum downtown Sunday night.
O'Neil is a former Negro League player who symbolizes the league. He is 95 years old, has the energy of a 20 year old and still tries to pick up the ladies. I'd give $1 million bucks right now to have his enthusiasm at 70.
"I've done a lot of things in my life," O'Neil. "I shook hands with President Truman. I shook hands with President Clinton. I hugged Hillary Clinton. But there is no where I would rather be than here with these great men who played in the Negro Leagues."
He was supposed to give a three-minute talk, but you knew immediately it was going to take longer for him to give his talk.
"It takes me three minutes to say good morning," he joked.
He was joined on stage by men like Joe Douse, Ron Teasley, Melvin Duncan, Marvin Jones, Harold "bebop" Gordon and later by Sweet Lou Johnson. It was great seeing the past and talking to them.
You should have seen the boy hook look in the eyes of former Tiger Cecil Fielder.
"Buck is my man, " Fielder gushed.
The two men embraced and Fielder told me how much he loved he man and how much he inspired him during his career.
He has us cracking up by telling the crowd about his best day. He hit for the cycle while playing for the Kansas City Monarchs. Later that night a group of school teachers came by his Memphis hotel to meet some players.
"I walked up to a young lady and said my name is Buck O'Neil," he said. "And she was my wife for 51 years."
It probably was not that simple. But then again knowing O'Neil, maybe it was.
Nike is going to introduce Negro League wear next year to celebrate Black History Month. But I encourage people to buy Negro League wear now. They have some neat uniforms and T-shirts that are colorful and support players and the Negro League Museum and the Negro League Players Association.
The best selection is on Nine Mile Road on the Oak Park-Ferndale line where Tony Dee owns a Negro League Apparel Shop. Call him at 248-543-3510 and drop by and do a little shopping.
I believe we should honor these men.

15 Comments:

Blogger The_Real_Right_Way said...

I bashed MLB the other day about the lack of promotion for the Allstar game. While things have heated up the last few days, I still think MLB could have done more leading into the game. I do however want to compliment MLB.

I guess it could be worse, I was flipping through the channels on Saturday and happen to come upon the WNBA AllStar game. Talk about a league that continues to get worse. I had no idea that their AllStar game was even taking place.

But to the point of my post. I have to hand it to Major League Baseball. They have done a good job of integrating the Negro Leagues into the history of Baseball. I know they took a while to embrace it, and under pressure, finally embraced it, but after they finally woke up, they have embraced what is a negative stain on the game of baseball and presented it like it should be. "A league of great players that were deprived of playing because of the color of their skin. Players that clearly were amongst the best in the world."

I hope however, that the motivation for commercialization and profiting does not become the priority. I would hope that the players and or their families at least get their fair share of any profits.

9:37 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article, terry, but what's up with the triple-posting?

9:37 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you have to post that 3 times?

10:35 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you have to post that 3 times?

10:36 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you have to post that 3 times?

10:36 AM

 
Blogger hitman said...

Hahaha anonymous!

Thanks T, it was a good read...

11:26 AM

 
Anonymous sportsfroma2 said...

Great piece Terry, I really want to hear the inferno tomorrow (your beef with the MLB fanfest thing).

Anyways, did anyone read this on espn.com? I love the article, and I have no idea who jason whitlock is, but i want to thank him:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=whitlock/050711

"Beginning this week during the Major League Baseball All-Star festivities, the city of Detroit will be brutalized by sportswriters from across the country. The maiming and name-calling and dissing won't stop until the completion of Super Bowl XL.

By the time it's over, the victims will include Kid Rock, Eminem, Madonna, Coleman Young's unborn great-grandchildren and Flint's Michael Moore.

Why shouldn't the All-Star game be held at Comerica Park? Detroit's the best sports town around.
Beating up on Detroit is easy. As the center of the free-falling automotive industry, known chiefly for crime, high unemployment and urban blight, Detroit is an easy target. Motown's 30-something mayor wears an earring, zoot suits and, if you believe the whispers, throws a house party that would make Snoop blush.

Yeah, making fun of Detroit is about as trouble-free as cracking a fat joke on Kirstie Alley. I've done both. It's really nothing to brag about.

But the truth is, especially when it comes to sports, Detroit is as good as it gets."

1:35 PM

 
Blogger Ian C. said...

1. I met Buck O'Neil after a Royals game in Kansas City last summer. I consider it one of the treats of my recent life. Like you, Terry, I couldn't believe the guy was in his 90s. He's truly a treasure.

2. Kudos to Whitlock (who used to work for the Ann Arbor News). It's nice to see a writer compliment Detroit, rather than take the easy shots, rehash the same old, tired "light cars on fire" bull$$#!+, and produce a lazy column.

Detroit's getting major time in the spotlight, with all the sporting events it's hosting. Hopefully, more of Whitlock's peers take the time to see Detroit and appreciate a city that deserves these events.

3:56 PM

 
Blogger Tom said...

Is it okay for white people to wear negro league stuff? Just wondering. The Detroit Stars stuff is really cool and I've always wanted to buy a hat or something, but I wasn't sure if it was proper for white people to wear it. I'm sure we can, but is it kosher?

7:25 PM

 
Blogger The_Real_Right_Way said...

tom,

"Hell yes."

While there is no prerequisite to wearing it, I would hope that those that wear it, including myself, can also share some history of what the negro leagues was all about.

Personally, that would require a little homework on my part but I think it would be well worth it.

In one of the many double standards that exist, I am sure that someone who is not of African decent might get asked questions that those of African decent would not. i.e. Why are you wearing that? etc.

The opportunity to drop some knowledge would be a beautiful thing.

In terms of offending someone, if you were your jeans too baggy, you're gonna offend someone these days. With that said, I don't think you'll offend anyone, in fact, I think it pays tribute to the Buck O'Neils and others who have climbed mountains that I can only imagine.

11:06 PM

 
Blogger Tom said...

I just wasn't sure if that would offend anyone. Like I said, some of the logos and merchandise is pretty sweet. Especially the Detroit Stars, which I understand were a pretty good team for quite a while. I'd love to have a stars cap. I just wasn't sure that people wouldn't call me out for being a whitey wearing negro league stuff.

And is it alright to call it negro league still?

11:51 PM

 
Blogger T Foster said...

Gang,
I have no idea what happened with the triple posting. It was not there when I left in the morning. I discovered it later that afternoon when I was away from my computer.

6:42 AM

 
Blogger T Foster said...

Tom,
Can white people wear Negro League stuff? Let me say yes. And watch this post in the next few days. I want to address that issue because that has come up before.
Stay tuned.

6:44 AM

 
Blogger T Foster said...

Check out our show today. The Sports Inferno on AM 1270 The Sports station. I am going to address some of my concerns with the Negro Leagues and the Detroit Stars.
Mike and I will address the issue some time today between 10-1.

6:46 AM

 
Blogger Tom said...

I couldn't hear the show today, what did you T Foster?

8:05 PM

 

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