Legendary Negro League baseball player Buck O’Neil and five other former players will help make up the Class of 2022 to be enshrined next summer at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
O’Neil, along with Gil Hodges, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat and Bud Fowler were elected into the Hall on Sunday by a pair of veterans committees in Orlando, Florida.
Hodges, Kaat, Minoso and Oliva were elected by the Golden Days Era Committee, while the Early Baseball Era Committee voted to induct O’Neil and Fowler.
O’Neil a national treasure
O’Neil’s contributions to the game of baseball knew no limits. As a player, he was a two-time Negro League all-star first baseman in 1942 and 1943, spending most of his career with the Kansas City Monarchs.
He then later became a groundbreaking figure by becoming the first Black coach in 1962 with the Chicago Cubs.
However, it was his life after his playing days and coaching days in which O’Neil would become a national treasure, serving as an ambassador to the game and championing the induction of various Negro League players into the Hall of Fame until his death in 2006.
Teammates to enter Hall together
Among the players set to enter the Hall of Fame, only Kaat, 83, and Oliva, 83, are still living.
The two were teammates on the Minnesota Twins from 1962-73. Kaat picthed 25 seasons in the big leagues with the Washington Senators, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals in addititon to the Twins, while Cuba native Oliva won the 1964 AL Rookie of the Year award and three batting titles in 15 seasons with the Twins.
Hodges was a beloved member of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947-61, playing first base at Brooklyn’s legendary Ebbets Field and helping the Dodgers to their memorable 1955 World Series title and then again in 1959 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hodges was also the manager of the ‘Miracle Mets’, the New York Mets team that earned the 1969 World Series crown.
The longevity of Minoso
Minoso was also a veteran of the Negro Leagues before spending 17 seasons in MLB with the White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Cardinals and Senators. The outfielder was best known for his longevity, with a career that spanned five decades from 1948-80.
Fowler, who died in 1913, is widely recognized as the first Black professional baseball players, having played as a pitcher and outfielder for teams in various Negro leagues.