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Buck O'Neil

Died: Oct. 6, 2006 in Kansas City, Mo.
: 1B, Coach
Career: 1938-55
Teams: Miami Giants, Shreveport Acme Giants, Memphis Red Sox, Kansas City Monarchs, Chicago Cubs
Highlights: Led the league in batting average in 1946. A member of the All-Star squad in 1942, 43

O'Neil broke color barrier for coaches

Buck O'Neil, an ambassador of the Negro Leagues and a ground-breaking coach in the major leagues, died on Oct. 6, 2006, in Kansas City, Mo. He was 94.

Buck O'Neil's groundbreaking feat came seven years after his playing career ended and 15 years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier as a player. The hiring of O'Neil as a coach in 1962, however, marked the breaking of another barrier in baseball.

When O'Neil agreed to work for the Chicago Cubs that year, he became the first black coach in the history of Major League Baseball.

As manager of the Negro League's Kansas City Monarchs from 1948 to 1955, O'Neil managed some of the greatest players in league history -- Satchell Paige and recent Hall of Fame inductee Hilton Smith. With O'Neil as manager, the Monarch captured five pennants and won two Black World Series.

As player, O'Neil earned a reputation as a clutch hitter and excellent first baseman. In 1946, he lead the Negro National League in batting average with .353. That year, he hit .333 with two home runs in the Black World Series.

Buck O'Neil, born in 1911, grew up outside of Sarasota, Florida.  An article on the Negro Leagues legend says he never dreamed of playing major league baseball.

"It was a white man's game," he says. "It was pretty cut and dry."

Today, O'Neil can sometimes be found on the sidelines of Kansas City Royals spring training games, and he remains active in the Negro Leagues Museum.  He had been chairman of the museum since its founding in 1997.