[A] special Hall of Fame committee set up in 2006 to take care of remaining Hall-worthy Negro Leagues players exhibited truly adamantine dumbitude by leaving out John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil, about two years before O’Neil’s death. The special committees had been necessary because the segregation of baseball by race had left too many great players shining on a less visible stage. Everybody knew how great Babe Ruth was. But not nearly so many knew how great Josh Gibson was, so extra effort was needed to research Gibson and top players like him so they could receive the recognition they deserved.
O’Neil himself didn’t consider his stats Hall-of-Fame worthy. As this otherwise kind of corny column in the Kansas City Star notes, he carried his list of Cooperstown-caliber-but-overlooked Negro Leagues players in his wallet. He didn’t list himself. But his contributions towards getting the biggest stars some of the attention they deserved and highlighting the untold story of Negro Leagues baseball are without peer. The committee that overlooked him did so to its eternal shame, especially since it was supposed to make the last recommendations from that era and then consider the case closed.
God’s been good to me. They didn’t think Buck was good enough to be in the Hall of Fame. That’s the way they thought about it and that’s the way it is, so we’re going to live with that. Now, if I’m a Hall of Famer for you, that’s all right with me. Just keep loving old Buck. Don’t weep for Buck. No, man, be happy, be thankful.
But now, the case is no longer closed:
But by including Negro Leagues players in its new “Early Committee,” the Hall now allows for the possibility that the face of Buck O’Neil could smile out at Cooperstown visitors sometime after 2020, when that committee first meets.
Don’t mess it up this time, guys.