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Kansas City StarI Was Right on Time has an amiability and truth that make it seem as if O'Neil is talking directly to the reader while both sit in the stands and enjoy a game at the field of dreams.
Born John Jordan O'Neil in Carrabelle, Fla., in 1911, O'Neil started playing semi-pro ball at the age of 12. He signed with the Tampa Black Smokers in 1934, then played with the Miami Giants before being picked up by a farm team of the famed Kansas City Monarchs. There were other stops on the way to the big time, including a barnstorming stint with the Zulu Cannibal Giants, a team that played wearing grass skirts. O'Neil takes long, affectionate looks at old friends and teammates, including the legendary Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Cool Pap Bell, Buck Leonard, Newt Allen, and "the greatest player" he ever saw, Oscar Charleston, who played for the Indianapolis ABCs in the 1920s. His "favorite" year—and its recounting is the highlight of the book—was 1942, when he and his Monarch teammates beat Gibson and Leonard's Homestead Grays in the Negro World Series. His reminiscences and anecdotes are generally fresh and engaging, if sometimes a bit soft-pedaled: "I never faced any real racism traveling around the country . . . Oh, you'd hear some kid make some kind of crack, but you didn't let that bother you none." He does, however, acknowledge Jackie Robinson's accomplishment—and his consequent struggles—in breaking the color barrier. And as a longstanding force on the Hall of Fame selection committee, he has ffought for the admission of former Negro Leaguers. O'Neil doesn't place himself on his all-time Negro League team—he was only "very good"—but hopes to make it to the Hall of Fame someday, "as a manager or for other contributions."
Sweetly self-effacing, O'Neil's grace and charm play almost as well here as they do for the camera.
Posted December 2, 2011
Excellent book on life in the Negro leagues and just how great those players were. Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and all the greats come alive in this book. A must read for any baseball fan. Its like Buck is telling you stories right on your own couch.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 8, 2006
I don't even like baseball, but this is a sensational book! I read it upon the challenge of a friend and I couldn't put it down. Buck O'Neil is the most amazing human being. He endured such injustice in his lifetime and yet he carries no bitterness. In fact, he loves life and lives to the fullest degree! Oh, he makes his point from time to time but always with grace and respect. His stories are terrific, and the book is written in such a way that you can almost hear him telling the stories to you. I've fallen in love with him, and aspire to be honorable like he is. This is an excellent book. Read it. Even if you don't like baseball.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 19, 2003
As a former Major Leaguer said about Buck, that he is a 'Guiding Light', he truly IS. If you are a Baseball Fan or just someone who is looking for a Life story that will make you feel good about life, then you should RUN to the Bookstore and pick up this book. Buck not only tells about what he and others had to go through just to play baseball, but he tells his story with absolutely no regrets. He is not bitter, although he and all who played in the Negro-Leagues should be, he is thankful that he was blessed to play the sport he loved. He talks candidly about how the players in the Negro-Leagues used to play 200 games a season, and how they would have to find their own 'lodging' when they entered a city to play a game. If you are a 'TRUE' Baseball fan this book should be in your personal Library, pure-and-simple. Keep on shedding light on us, Buck. Your'e simply the Best.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.