John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Dec. 5, 2021. O’Neil played in the Negro American League for 10 seasons, mostly with the Kansas City Monarchs, and was named to three All-Star Games. Once he retired his cleats, he became a scout for the Chicago Cubs and was later named the first Black coach in Major League Baseball by the Cubs.
O’Neil, who helped found the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, was previously honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in 2008 with the creation of the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award.
Bud Fowler was also included in the upcoming class. Fowler’s achievements date back to the pre-Negro Leagues era and he has been acknowledged as the first Black professional baseball player, according to the Hall of Fame. He pitched and played second base for different teams in more than a dozen leagues before his death in 1913.
O’Neil’s and Fowler’s selections come one year after Major League Baseball announced it would right its wrongs and begin recognizing the Negro Leagues as a major league and counting the statistics and records of thousands of Black players from the past.
MLB said it was “correcting a longtime oversight in the game’s history” by elevating the status of the Negro Leagues — which consisted of seven leagues and about 3,400 players from 1920 to 1948. The league started to demise after Jackie Robinson integrated the league in 1947.
Other people of color making the 2022 Hall of Fame Class include Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso, and Tony Oliva, who entered the league after Robinson. The six players will officially be inducted in Cooperstown, New York, on July 24, 2022, according to the Hall of Fame website.