You know that great new Royals ad that features the unmistakable voice of the iconic Buck O’ Neil singing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame?”
There is a place in town where you can not only hear that voice but feel Buck’s spirit: The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
On Thursday, the museum announced this year’s inductees to the Hall of Game; players who played in the Majors but had what it takes to have been a part of the Negro Leagues.
- Al Oliver
- Tony Perez
- Lee Smith
- Maury Wills
The roster will join greats such as last year’s honorees Andre Dawson, Orlando Cepeda, Tony Oliva and Tim Raines.
According to the NLBM President Bob Kendrick, the Hall of Game-which will officially take place on June 10-turns that old, incorrect question on its head.
It is not a matter of “Could the players in the Negro Leagues cut it in the Majors?’ but, rather, “Could the guys from the Majors have made the grade in the Negro Leagues?”
Kendrick says it is a not just being able to play the game but play it with “swagger!”
In addition to announcing the Hall of Game group, they also named the winner of this year’s Jackie Robinson Lifetime Achievement Award, former general manager of the Arizona Diamond Backs Dave Stewart.
While many people know the basic story of Jackie Robinson, they may not always realize that his baseball life started here as a Kansas City Monarch and that his leadership in civil rights, some 70 years ago, preceded so many other important moments in history.
Thursday's announcement gives the museum a chance to tell that important story, yet again.
So, the next time you hear the warm voice of Buck O’Neil on the TV or radio, think of the museum and all the stars, known and unknown, that made the game, truly, America’s Pastime.