On Sunday, the National Baseball Hall of Fame elected Negro League baseball players Buck O'Neil and Bud Fowler.
John "Buck" O'Neil, played for the Memphis Red Sox and Kansas City Monarchs as a first baseman and manager in the Negro League from 1937 to 1948. In 1962, the Carrabelle, Florida native became the first black coach and scout for the MLB's Chicago Cubs for only one year.
According to the Society for American Baseball Research, O'Neil "was grandson of a slave and became one of the great storytellers of the Negro Leagues."
O’Neil received a scholarship to Edward Waters College, an HBCU in Jacksonville, FL. Baseball coach Ox Clemons nicknamed him “Country” and also made him a lineman on the football team. O’Neil attained his high school diploma and two years of college. SABR on Buck O'Neil
Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns on Buck O'Neil finally getting into the Hall of Fame:
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on Buck O'Neil:
A smooth-fielding first baseman for the Kansas City Monarchs as they won four consecutive Negro American League pennants (1939-1942), O'Neil hit .353 as the Monarchs swept the Homestead Grays in the first World Series played between the Negro American League and the more established Negro National League. That year, 1942, also marked the first of his three appearances for the West squad in the All Star game.
Teams: Miami Giants (1934), New York Tigers (1935), Shreveport Acme Giants (1936), Memphis Red Sox (1937), Zulu Cannibal Giants (1937), Kansas City Monarchs (1938-1943, 1946-1955), military service (1943-1945)
According to Brian McKenna for SABR, "John "Bud" W. Jackson Fowler Jr. was one of the true pioneers of American baseball, one so far overlooked by the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In black baseball history, he is the pioneer. His resume includes a long list of firsts. He is the first acknowledged African-American professional player — way back in 1878 before there were any black teams of consequence. He was the first to play on integrated teams, typically the only dark face on the roster; in fact, he preferred white clubs because they fielded the best nines and offered the stiffest competition through much of his career. As such, he was the first significant black player in the United States. As researcher and author Robert Peterson declared, “Frank Grant, Bud Fowler and George Stovey were unquestionably of major-league star caliber.”
McKenna wrote, "Fowler is consider the first black player to participate in organized baseball and first to captain as integrated club."
He was born in Fort Plain, NY on March 16, 1958 and died in Frankfort, NY on February 26, 1913.
His nickname was “Bud” because that’s how he referred to everyone, but more often he was identified in print as the “colored” ballplayer, or “darkey” or merely “the coon.” One newspaper sarcastically referred to him as “not a blonde.” SABR on Bud Fowler
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on Bud Fowler:
"He was the first professional black ballplayer, beginning his career in 1878, only one year after the first minor league was organized. Born John W. Jackson, the son of a fugitive hop-picker and barber, he lived in Cooperstown, New York, as a youngster, and may well have learned the rudiments of baseball on the sandlots of the region. For some undiscovered reason he took the name of Bud Fowler when he began playing professionally. Unsubstantiated reports that he played with the Washington Mutuals in 1869 and with a Newcastle, Pennsylvania, team in 1872 cannot be confirmed and are improbable."
Teams: Minor leagues (1877-1879, 1881, 1884-1899), Page Fence Giants (1895), Cuban Giants (1898), Smoky City Giants (1901), All-American Black Tourists (1903), Kansas City Stars (1904)