Kansas City baseball icon Buck O’Neil, one of the game’s greatest ambassadors, has died in a Kansas City hospital. He was 94. O’Neil was one of the last of the Negro League Players and was a guiding light in creating the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City. He was a familiar figure at the museum for years. O’Neil was the first black scout and coach in Major League baseball, working for the Chicago Cubs. Among those he signed as prospects were Lou Brock and Ernie Banks, both now in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was an all-star, a batting champion, a championship manager in the Negro Leagues. Many people think he should be in the Hall of Fame and hoped he would be elected this year. But when the voting was announced last February, he was one vote short. In July, however, it was O’Neil who spoke in Cooperstown on behalf of the 17 Negro Leagues players and executives who had been voted into the Hall. The speech was filled with his usual good humor, zest for life, and continuing excitement about his career as a Negro Leaguer. He often said people asked him if he hated those who had discriminated against him and black people on and off the baseball field. He said he could never hate another person–although he hated cancer, which killed his wife ten years ago, and AIDS, which killed a friend earlier this year. O’Neil had been in good health until about a month ago.
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