erik lundegaard

The Wisdom of Buck O'Neil

“Buck [O'Neil, age 94] was wearier than usual. He had been sucker-punched by the Star [radio] interview and then pounded relentlessly by so many interviews and requests. His head spun. He was hungry. He was surrounded by a Friday evening in New York—the construction sounds, the blaring horns, the fast walkers, the street hustlers, the Broadway lights, the hole in the sky. Buck loved New York. He was ready to get home.

”'I'm going to sleep,' he announced when the car pulled up to the Marriott. As we stepped out of the car, I notcied a woman standing outside, near a concrete bench. She was wearing a red dress. It's not quite right to say I noticed her, as if this took some doing. She was noticeable. The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America by Joe PosnanskiHer dressed blazed candy-apple red. You could see it from Brooklyn. The woman who wore it looked nothing at all like Marilyn Monroe and yet that was the name that came to mind. Marilyn. It was that kind of dress. We walked into the hotel, and I turned back to mention something to Buck about the woman and her red dress. He was gone. I looked back to see if he had stayed in the car but the car was gone, too. I looked down the hall. Empty. Bathroom? Empty.

Then I looked outside. There was Buck talking to the woman in the red dress. Buck talked and she laughed. She talked and he laughed. They hugged. She kissed him. A young man walked over, and Buck talked to him, they hugged, they all laughed. The three of them stayed together for a long time, Buck and the woman and the young man. Finally Buck hugged both of them and walked in looking fresh as the morning. Star was a long way back in his memory. Buck said, 'Let's go get something to eat.'

“As we walked to the restaurant, he asked: 'Did you see the woman in the red dress?'

”'Yes.'

“Buck shook his head and looked me in the eyes. And very slowly, with a teacher's edge in his voice, Buck said this: 'Son, in this life, you don't ever walk by a red dress.'”

—from Joe Posnanski's “The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America,” which I read in its entirety during our plane trip from Seattle to Seoul and then Seoul to Hanoi, enjoying every minute I spent with Buck and Joe. Much recommended. Rest in Peace, Buck. Keep going, Joe.


Posted at 05:12 PM on Mon. Apr 05, 2010 in category Books, Baseball  
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COMMENTS

Mister B wrote:

A lesson learned in the "Matrix" universe, too. :)
Comment posted on Mon. Apr 05, 2010 at 09:42 PM

Tim wrote:

Mr. B fails to recognize the greatness of that book. Mike, it's a fantastic read. I want to live at least as long as Buck O'Neil did so long as I can also have his general demeanor and attitude in my old age. (And, you know, it'd be nice to play first and manage as well as Buck did for KC, but I'd rather have his attitude.)
Comment posted on Mon. Apr 05, 2010 at 10:10 PM

Mister B wrote:

Yes, I should get that book. It would look great next to my Buck O'Neil autographed baseball and I could read it while wearing my replica Buck O'Neil Monarchs jersey. :)

Seriously, if anyone wants to get me that book for Xmas, I'd read it soon after. :)

More than anything, I'm just disappointed that I never got to meet him. I'd love to have his attitude, too.
Comment posted on Wed. Apr 07, 2010 at 06:56 PM

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