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Baseball legend Buck O’Neil continues to bless Kansas City, even in death

Buck O'Neil
Posted at 1:18 PM, Jul 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-22 14:18:38-04

John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil made an indelible mark on Kansas City during his life — and it has continued to grow beyond the grave.

O'Neil, a baseball pioneer made famous in Ken Burns' "Baseball" docuseries, died Oct. 6, 2006, one month shy of his 95th birthday from complications of congestive heart failure and bone marrow cancer.

Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, understood the magnitude of O'Neil's life and death.

"I'm glad he's such an important part of the history of our state and the history of Kansas City and the history of baseball," Blunt said.

Near the end of his life, O’Neil was focused on one thing — the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

The U.S. Mint is currently selling a set of three commemorative coins, the proceeds from which benefit the museum, thanks to a bipartisan effort tha included Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, a Democrat from Missouri and former Kansas City, Missouri, mayor.

"Buck was to Kansas City, a gift," Cleaver said.

Over the Missouri River, the Buck O’Neil Bridge, which carries U.S. 169 across the Missouri River from the Northland to downtown, brings together the north and south parts of the Kansas City area.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick said O’Neil’s dream was long-term sustainability for the museum, which is located in the Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District.

"He wanted it more for us than he wanted it for himself," Kendrick said.

Now, on the cusp of his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, O’Neil’s legacy continues to pay dividends and bring immense interest to the Kansas City area.