Saturday, March 13, 2004

The Ordinary Man's Game
Here's a great snippett from Buck O'Neil's book, I Was Right On Time:

"The black kids were just playing basketball and football. This is why RBI (Riviving Baseball in the Inner-Cities) is trying to rejuvinate baseball in the inner city. And we want these kids to play baseball. Right now the majority of blacks in the majors are from Latin countries. There are a lot of kids in our cities who are good atheletes, but they'll never play pro basketball or pro football because you have to be big and quick to play those sports. But in baseball you can be five-foot-nine and be a superstar. It's the ordinary man's game."

I've not had the pleasure of seeing Ken Burns' film Baseball, so my knowledge of Buck O'Neil comes from living in his adopted hometown. Even at 93, he's still a very visible fixture in this city. I see him at just about every Royals game I've attended, sitting in his same seat behind home plate, scorecard in hand. Last year, my son Joey and I were fortunate enough to get some seats right behind home plate for a Royals game. Joey was on the aisle, and we were filling out our scorecard before the first pitch. Suddenly, Joey's cap was flipped down over his eyes. He pulled the cap up and looked up to see a grey haired old man walking down the steps. Buck turned around and gave my son a wink.

After we return from Arizona, Joey and I plan on visiting the Negro League Museum, located right here in KC. It's amazing how you just never bother to appreciate the things that are in your own backyard. Joey has been interested in visiting the museum ever since our trip to Atlanta earlier this year. We were strolling through Underground Atlanta, and there was a cart selling Negro League merchandise. Monarchs caps, Clowns jerseys. They had everything. The "cool" factor was enough for Joey. I'm looking forward to the visit and learning more about these great players.

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