The “Thanks A Million, Buck” Campaign To Enrich Baseball History And Honor A Baseball Legend

On most nights during the week, I listen to the radio broadcast of Boston Red Sox Baseball at work or on the car ride home or sitting on my deck. Every game features a pre-game show which offers a variety of things – pitching matchups, injury reports, playoff trending reports, and so on. When the Red Sox are on the road, the team of broadcasters typically get into the communities and culture of the visiting city and report on these events on the pre-game as well. This week, the Red Sox traveled to Kansas City to face the KC Royals. Part of the day Thursday, if my memory serves me correct, was spent on a guided tour of Kansas City’s Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and a personal tour by Museum President Bob Kendrick.

First, a bit about Bob Kendrick, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, its extraordinary players, and a very special and recent Hall of Fame inductee. Kendrick is an amazing ambassador for baseball, not just of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Although he is well versed in the disturbing history of professional baseball pre-Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, and others who were denied entry strictly because of the color of their skin, Kendrick serves as a positive voice when educating others on our national pastime. Bob Kendrick has appeared on national baseball programs for years touting the legacies of the Negro Leagues’ players during their prime and after their playing days were over, becoming coaches, scouts, mentors, and community leaders. And that very special Hall of Fame Inductee – the legendary Buck O’Neil, who is one of his favorite players to talk about. Kendrick speaks highly of him, and often of him.

If you don’t know who Buck O’Neil is or haven’t had the chance to read his bio or listen to his stories or hear his soothing voice, I am sorry for you. Buck O’Neil is as important to the history of baseball as Mickey Mantle or Ted Williams or Tom Seaver, so important in fact that he was just elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. And Buck didn’t take one swing in any game in any year on any Major League Baseball roster. His contribution to the sport of baseball reaches back to his childhood days in the Florida panhandle through his playing days with the likes of the Kansas City Monarchs and then as a trailblazing professional coach, scout, and baseball mentor with the Chicago Cubs. Ever heard of Lou Brock, how about Ernie Banks, Joe Carter, and Lee Smith? O’Neil mentored and scouted and helped all these players sign professional contracts and the list includes many, many more.

Buck O’Neil would continue to his dream of educating America on the Negro Leagues and the important role black baseball players played in the history of the game by establishing the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in 1990. Through grants and donations and hard work, the NLBM is still thriving today and some say better than ever. O’Neil’s footprints are all over the facility and grounds and his statue stands tall and proud. The NLBM is on my list of places to visit as soon as my schedule permits and I encourage anyone traveling to the Kansas City area to visit and be educated!

Ok, so the title of this article spoke about a campaign. “Thanks A Million, Buck,” is a nationwide call to baseball fans to give just one dollar (or more if they are feeling generous) to help fund an educational center in his name, in his honor, in his spirit. The Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center, it has a nice ring to it! Here is more from the official campaign page – Thanks A Million, Buck.

“Buck O’Neil selflessly dedicated his life to teaching us about the heroes of the Negro Leagues and demonstrating to the world that you could get further in life with love than you could with hate.

Now, it’s our collective opportunity to say, “thank you,” to this legendary man. Join the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) as we celebrate baseball’s greatest ambassador’s long overdue induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by supporting, our “THANKS A MILLION, BUCK” campaign. 

THE GOAL: Raise at least $1 million between now and November 13, which would be Buck’s 111th Birthday, by fans donating a Buck (or more) in support of the NLBM and the completion of the Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center at the site of the Paseo YMCA where the Negro Leagues we’re established in 1920 by Andrew “Rube” Foster.”

Here is a campaign video explanation I found on YouTube recently:

As I say with all donations, give if you can. $1 is your way of saying Thank You Buck O’Neil for your tireless work as a professional baseball player, coach, scout, mentor, and educator. A wonderful career, a wonderful person, and what a wonderful gift to the world to have this educational center continue Buck O’Neil’s work. Here is the link once again:

And if you donate, tweet your message and use the hashtag, #thanksamillionbuck

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The RIBBE is The Rhode Island Baseball Experience. It is promoting the game of baseball here in the great state of Rhode Island for the entire baseball world to see. The RIBBE is positive stories, photos, videos, and responsible social media posts. The RIBBE is an information resource for families looking for an AAU team or a summer camp or a great place to buy a first baseman’s mitt. The RIBBE is a network of coaches, tournament directors, parents, leagues, and baseball junkies whose passion of the game of baseball is unquestioned. I believe that providing expert analysis, information and directions to ballfields, and coaching advice from some of the top RI baseball minds will help promote the game of baseball here in RI to a whole new level.

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