The Passing of One of My Heroes

Buck O’Neil died Friday after a prolonged stay in a Kansas City hospital. He was 94 years old, almost 95. He lived a life for the ages. Buck used to say he had done it all — he hit the home run, he hit for the cycle, he traveled the world, he testified before Congress, he sang at the Baseball Hall of Fame, he made a hole-in-one in golf, he married the woman he loved, he shook hands with American presidents.

One of the highlights of my life happened about 10 years ago when Buck came to speak at a Diversity event at the company that I worked for - Buck embodied both Diversity and Love. Buck began the meeting by shaking the hand of everyone in that place - he was so warm and caring. I will never forget that day when this beautiful gentleman spoke to us all about his experiences growing up in segregated America and about how he learned to love people. I remember Buck talking about his friend Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Baseball League. He closed the meeting as he did on many occasions by asking everyone in the audience to hold hands and sing a song with him about loving each other. He had everyone in Cooperstown singing it this year when he spoke at the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Here is the way that he concluded his speech:
Now, I want you to do something for me. I’m fixin' to get off this stage now. I think I done my six minutes. But I want you to do something for me. I want you to hold hands. Whoever’s next to you, hold a hand. Come on, you Hall of Famers, hold hands. All you people out there, hold hands. Everybody hooked up? Everybody hooked up? Well then I tell you what. See, I know my brothers up here, my brothers over there -- I see some black brothers of mine and sisters out there -- I know they can sing. Can you white folks sing? I want you to sing after me:

The greatest thing -- come on everybody --

The greatest thing in all of my life is loving you.

The greatest thing in all of my life is loving you.

The greatest thing in all of my life is loving you.

The greatest thing in all my life is loving you.

Thank you, folks. Thank you, folks. Thank you, folks. Thank you, folks. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Now, sit down. Now, sit down. I could talk to you 10 minutes longer, but I got to go to the bathroom.
Thank you Buck. See you in Heaven!


  1. Too cool! I'm sending this to my baseball loving brother.

  2. That's phenomenal -- he sounds like he was a remarkable guy. Thanks for sharing the HoF story -- and the impact that he made on you!

  3. Wow. I really loved reading that entry. I don't even know who he is, but now that I do, I miss him.


  4. He's one of the great heroes - and he was along for a LONG time. 94 years!
    I look forward to meeitng him in heaven too. I've seen about five blog entries on him - he's made a huge impact on people.

  5. I saw him speak when he didn't make it into the hall of fame by ONE VOTE!
    "Shed no tears for me!" he declared. He went on and named all of the joys of his life. What a great man!


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