Buck O'Neil belongs in the Hall of Fame because he is the living history of Negro leagues baseball -- a decent enough player, five times a pennant-winning manager for the leagues' greatest franchise, the first African American coach in the major leagues and, for the past 50 years, a tireless, charismatic, endearing advocate reminding us that whatever differences of race exist, baseball brings us together.
When the first 18 men from the Negro leagues were elected to the Hall of Fame by baseball writers and the Veterans Committee, no one argued that O'Neil belonged alongside Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston and Cool Papa Bell. But now a select committee, charged with identifying Negro leagues Hall of Famers, has elected a group of 16 men and a woman -- five executives among them -- without electing Buck O'Neil.
That is an outrage.
It cannot stand uncontested.
O'Neil, who first became a national figure as a result of his appearance in Ken Burns' documentary Baseball has worked tirelessly to promote baseball and especially bringing attention to the rich history of the long-neglected Negro Leagues. The fact that the Hall of Fame is admitting these 18 individuals this year has a lot to do with O'Neil's efforts.
There's still time to correct this mistake. The Hall of Fame should admit O'Neil especially while he's still around to enjoy the honor. They should do it for the good of the game. They should do it because it's the right thing to do.