John “Buck” O’Neil as I Knew Him: A Historian’s Perspective
There may be no more beloved figure in Kansas City’s sports history than John “Buck” O’Neil. A former player and manager for the Kansas City Monarchs of baseball’s Negro Leagues, O’Neil rose to national fame as a prominent presence and voice in Ken Burns’ PBS documentary Baseball in 1994 and remained a tireless promoter of Negro Leagues history.
Author and baseball historian Phil S. Dixon first interviewed O’Neil in the 1980s. Their conversations about O’Neil’s life and career in baseball were ongoing until O’Neil’s death in 2013 and are chronicled in Dixon’s recently released John “Buck” O’Neil: The Rookie, His Words, His Voice. In a discussion of the book, Dixon details O’Neil’s upbringing in Florida, his introduction to and passion for baseball, and his career as a player, manager, and scout.
Dixon is the author of nine books and a member of the Society of American Baseball Researchers. His book The Negro Baseball Leagues: A Photographic History, 1867-1955 received the Casey Award as the best baseball book of 1992. He and O’Neil helped co-found the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City to preserve this important history for future generations.