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The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through…

The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America

by Joe Posnanski

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A wonderful mystical journey through baseball through the eyes of the gentle caring soul of Buck O'Neal. The book gives the reader a fascinating glimpse of Negro baseball, but even more interesting is the way Buck handles life and the hardships that he's endured. Terrific read. ( )
  bhuesers | Mar 29, 2017 |
I recently watched the 10-disc Ken Burns series “Baseball” on DVD. In this series, my favorite interview person was Buck O’Neil. His enthusiasm was contagious, so I was thrilled to come across “The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America”. It was written by the sports columnist Joe Posnanski, who followed O’Neil in his travels throughout the 2005 Major League Baseball season. O’Neil, at 94, was one of the last players left from the Negro Baseball League. He was also the first African-American coach in the MLB. The Negro league flourished in the 1930’s and 1940’s, but petered out after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier when he signed with the Dodgers in 1946.
O’Neil’s mission was to spread the word of how the Negro League really was. He believed the books written so far were too sterile, that the real players were not only some of the greatest athletes ever, but just as full of personality as any superstar MLB player today. Through over 200 event appearances a year, he promoted the induction of those players into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Baseball aficionados will love the reminiscences of games past and learn stories they’ve not heard before. O’Neil had a remarkable memory, and passed on many wonderful stories of his playing and coaching days. He tells of the racism and hard times the players endured, but never asks for pity.
Posnanski captures the real O’Neil: his humor, heartaches, and wisdom.
This is a rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of a time long past. With the passing of O’Neil in 2006, we may never have this chance again.
( )
  BooksOn23rd | Nov 25, 2015 |
To begin with: if you are a fan of baseball, you should read this book.

If you are a fan of Civil Rights, you should probably read this book.

This book made me smile on one page and cry on the next. It made me completely indignant about all of the injustices in the world, all of the unspeakably horrible things that happen in the tiniest actions (or inactions), and yet it left me unable to be truly angry about them - because that is the lesson of Buck O'Neil: How not to be bitter.

This book is incredibly well-written, and I am surprised I haven't heard (more?) about it before now. I have to applaud Joe Posnanski for his handling of the subject matter. I found it remarkable that he managed to introduce himself and his purpose at the beginning of the book, and then completely disappear from the narrative. It is essentially omniscient, unbiased journalism (as if such a thing existed; and anyway of course it is skewed in O'Neil's favor). And then at the end he reappears, as he should, representing the feelings of pretty much everyone with his indignation, and closing the book appropriately.

And then there is the seamless way in which Posnanski occasionally incorporates the lyrics of the great jazz standards into his prose.

Obviously I knew Buck was gonna die at the end of the book. I bawled my eyes out anyway.

I am so glad that the New York Times published an article about the Negro Leagues Museum, and that I read it, and that I then planned a weekend (baseball) trip to Kansas City. Not sure when I would have gotten around to this book, if not for the trip. Not even sure I would have heard of it.

This review isn't doing this book any justice. Just read it already.
( )
  GraceZ | Sep 6, 2014 |
The Soul of Baseball by Joe Posnaski is collection of stories about baseball legend Buck O'Neil as he travels across America telling stories about his days in the Negro Leagues, telling stories like the Nancy Story and other stories about former Negro League baseball players like Cool Papa Bell and Satchel Paige. He tells stories about Sonny Gray a player who only could play well on beautiful sunny days, on the gray, rainy days he who sit in Center Field reading a Readers Digest sometimes catching the ball sometimes not, but on the sunny days he could hit farther home runs than even famous slugger Josh Gibson. All the learning about Buck's old sayings like "Good black don't crack" or "Never walk by a girl in a red dress." In the end we find out that Buck died at 94 almost 95.
  RSufyan | Apr 1, 2014 |
Even if you don't know a baseball from a basketball and care even less about the distinction, this book is well worth the read. Buck O'Neil was an inspiration to people of all colors, shapes and sizes and proof that while age might slow you down physically, it is not an obstacle for the soul. He was fighting for what he believed at ninety-four, and his efforts to keep the history of the Negro Leagues and its amazing players alive, vibrant and relevant are still paying off and will continue to do so.

O'Neil's stories, as told to Joe Posnanski, are alternately touching, reflective, and laugh out loud funny. But really touched me was O'Neil's quiet dignity. He wasn't about to forget the injustices done to African-American players before and for some time after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, but he wasn't going to let bitterness and rancor swallow him, either. O'Neil was adamant in viewing people as, well, people: shades of good and bad in every single one of us. He wouldn't get drawn into condemning others, whether it was exploitative baseball owners of old or steroid-using baseball players of today. I only wish I could have been one of those people who lined up to shake his hand at baseball events before he died, just before his ninety-fifth birthday.

Joe Posnanski's words are a wonderful tribute to O'Neil, and he's a terrific story spinner in his own right. The book is immensely enjoyable to read. Highly recommended. ( )
  csyb | Apr 26, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060854030, Hardcover)

When Legendary Negro League player Buck O'Neil asked sports columnist Joe Posnanski how he fell in love with baseball, Posnanski had to think about it. From that question was born the idea behind BASEBALL AND JAZZ. Posnanski and the 94 year old O'Neil decided to spend the 2005 baseball season touring the country in hopes of stirring up the love that first drew them to the game. This book is just as much the story of Buck O'Neil as it is the story of baseball. In a time when disillusioned, steroid–shooting, money hungry athletes define the sport, Buck O'Neil stands out as a man that truly played for the love of the game. Posnanski writes about that love and the one thing that O'Neil loved almost as much as baseball: jazz. BASEBALL AND JAZZ is an endearing step back in time to the days when the crack of a bat and the smoky notes of a midnight jam session were the sounds that brought the most joy to a man's heart.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:54 -0400)

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The game of baseball as known by Negro League's legend Buck O'Neil, from his days as a kid playing baseball to managing the Kansas City Monarchs to the glories of the Major Leagues.

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