Tuesday, February 28, 2006

One miss spoils the class?

Mike Vaccaro notes that the class of 17 Negro League affiliated players, owners and contributors voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame is missing a member -- the special committee set up to vote on Negro League additions to the Hall failed to elect Buck O'Neill, MLB's first-ever black coach, a scout, and a tireless worker on behalf of the Negro Leagues' legacy.

Here's Vaccaro's take on the importance of the 94-year old who's still kickin' around and talkin' baseball:

. . . if there is going to a Baseball Hall of Fame at all, then Buck O'Neil has to be in it. The only reason many people know about the Negro Leagues at all is because of him, through the Ken Burns "Baseball" series, through his tireless efforts on the Veterans Committee. Most of the Negro Leaguers already in the Hall would be forgotten names in an archive somewhere if not for Buck O'Neil.

"Buck has changed history," Adrian Burgos, one of yesterday's voters, told the Kansas City Star before the vote. "And that's an accomplishment that Cooperstown itself can't deny."

Actually, they can, and actually they did. Shame on them. You want to know a cruel, bitter reality about the Hall? Tom Yawkey is in the Hall.

Tom Yawkey never played. He never managed. In his life, Tom Yawkey did three notable things: He was born filthy rich; he somehow owned the Red Sox for over 40 years and won exactly as many World Series as I have; and he single-handedly tried to keep Jim Crow alive inside major league baseball, waiting until 12 years after Jackie Robinson before integrating his team.

Tom Yawkey is in there as a contributor, when his greatest contribution was keeping his roster as lily white as its home uniforms. And Buck O'Neil isn't, even though he has spent his life trying to balance all the inequities visited upon the game by the dreadful likes of Tom Yawkey.

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