OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — If your child doesn’t know the story of Negro Leagues baseball legend John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil, a teacher in Overland Park is hoping to change that.
Kristy Nerstheimer is a teacher with the Shawnee Mission School District. She was so inspired by Buck O’Neil's on-field accomplishments and advocacy for the Negro Leagues that she authored a book called, "The Greatest Thing: A Story about Buck O’Neil."
“Years ago, I saw him live and became an instant fan. He just has a wonderful, immense, loving spirit about him,” Nerstheimer told 41 Action News. “When you become a Buck O'Neil fan you become a KC Monarch fan, and so I was just kind of fascinated with the history.”
Nerstheimer spent years researching the content, including his 10 years with the league's Kansas City Monarchs.
The book was launched in January and is geared toward elementary school-aged children so they can grasp the kindness O’Neil shared with others, his devotion to the Negro Leagues' success and the obstacles he overcame both on and off the field.
“There’s even a part of the book where he says that he never learned to hate, you know, even, even after all that prejudice against him,” Nerstheimer said. “You know, we are having a tough time now with racial tension that it's important for us as educators to talk about race with kids and to, you know, develop that sense of acceptance.”
The book can be purchased at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and thelittlefig.com.