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Ken Burns fought back tears as he celebrated Buck O’Neil being elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
The legendary O’Neil, who died in 2006 at age 94, was a champion of Black ballplayers during his historic eight-decade career. Thus, he was featured heavily in Burns’ 1994 Baseball docuseries.
“I’m near tears,” Burns said in a video he posted after the HOF announcement Sunday. “Fifteen years ago, when Buck was still alive, he should have been leading the class that got it. And he didn’t. He died shortly thereafter. And now, he’s in. He’s one of the greatest people I’ve ever met on this planet; one of the best human beings, a great ambassador of baseball. And we’re just so happy and pleased. And I know that somewhere, Buck is in an even bigger hall of fame.”
O’Neil was a first baseman and manager primarily with the Kansas City Monarchs. In Burns’ classic docuseries, the fantastic raconteur O’Neil recounted his amazing moments, but also the trials and tribulations of Black ballplayers.
Burns on Sunday noted the late Bud Fowler was also elected into the HOF. Also selected were Gil Hodges, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat. The six newcomers will be enshrined in Cooperstown, New York, on July 24, 2022.
Watch Burns’ message below.
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