KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Buck O' Neil will live on as a baseball legend to many, but to Samuel McCormick remembers sitting next to him every Sunday, at Bethel AME Church.
“He was somebody, but he didn’t act like he was somebody, he was just 'Old Buck,'” McCormick said. ”He would just walk in and exchange pleasures with people, he would sit down enjoy the services, and he loved to sing, and if anybody was singing he would sing.”
O'Neil, was a man full of faith that carried him to the Hall of Fame, as described by his niece Dr. Angela Terry.
It's an award she says is long overdue.
“My heart is singing with joy, and at different times throughout the day it has been somewhat unreal because it’s been so long wished for," Terry said.
“He was never bitter. He never had complained about the fact that he was overlooked,” McCormick said.
According to McCormick, O'Neil was a humble man. He remembers him vividly for his bright smile and down-to-earth personality. He was an "average Joe," sharing conversations about life and his love for the game of baseball.
“He talked about the travel, the game, the fact that the black community would show up at all Monarchs games, and they were dressed in the Sunday’s finest,” McCormick recalled.
Terry said her favorite uncle was a pioneer, who remembered his past, but was focused on building a legacy for the future generation of ballplayers - especially ballplayers of color.
“He was concerned with the declining numbers of children of color who were interested in baseball,” Terry said. "He was hoping to regenerate their interests within the African American population.”
Now, 15 years after his death, McCormick and Terry both say have a sense of relief knowing O'Neil finally has his place and name in the Hall of Fame
“It’s long overdue,” McCormick said.