Archive for Thursday, December 13, 2001

O’Neil’s message relevant to times

December 13, 2001

The message Buck O'Neil bought to De Soto needs a larger audience. Fortunately, it appears as if he will be provided a very big stage next summer.

Actually, the speech O'Neil delivered at the De Soto Chamber of Commerce annual Christmas dinner had at least three messages. He told those gathered to give their best at whatever they find themselves doing, even if it's something to fill time until finding something better; and get as much education as possible. The words were often directed at the few youngsters in attendance, and it can be assumed it is advice O'Neil often offers younger audiences.

The former Negro League great's more mature message was one of love. Citing his Christian faith, O'Neil said he couldn't hate the racists who denied him educational opportunities, a chance to test his athletic skills on the largest stage and advancement in the color-conscious world of baseball management. Nor could he hate the fanatics responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. Hate the act, O'Neil said, not our fellow creations of God.

The words are more meaningful because ONeil so sincerely demonstrates his good will toward men. He could be legitimately bitter about what was denied him. But, O'Neil has found peace and respect by opening himself to all and challenging us to do better by following his example. O'Neil has been deprived a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame for the last decade because he served on that organizations veteran committee, which selects overlooked former stars who deserve recognition in the Hall. By doing so, O'Neil made the work of his successors easy. He is the most obvious and deserving candidate for that honor.

The message O'Neil shared with those at the Chamber dinner will be heard at Cooperstown next summer. It will be, we predict, one of the most memorable and quoted induction speeches in that organizations history.

His message of love couldn't be more relevant. As O'Neil says, God raises a messenger when he needs one. Attendees were lucky to hear his message last Friday.

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