February 10, 2010

Right on time

I mentioned last week that I started reading a great book called “The Soul of Baseball” by Joe Posnanski. Well, today I had just finished reading the very last word just as my train arrived at my destination. I thought to myself this must be symbolic. Here, I had just completed this amazing journey through history at the exact moment my train came to a stop. I realized that even though I was done; I had really only just begun.

As I walked out of the train station, my mind began to think about all the people I could tell about this book. Words probably can’t justify how beautiful this book is and yet, I feel the need to try. I feel compelled to try and convince you or anyone else that will read this or listen to me in person that they need to know about a man named Buck O’Neil and his journey through life.

I suppose I could quote various passages from the book, but my fear is that you will somehow feel like you’ve received the gist of it all and decide you don’t need to read it for yourself. That would be a tragedy. Trust me; you’ll only be cheating yourself if you don’t. So, I’m not going to quote it at all; instead, I implore you to get a copy for yourself and when you’re done reading it; pass it on to someone else.

Prior to reading this book; I knew very little, if anything about the Negro Leagues. I don’t know why I never bothered to learn more about it and I’m guessing that like most of you, I had this image of what I thought it must have been like back then. My image wasn’t a pretty picture. Well, I was wrong; in fact, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Posnanski (through the eyes of Buck O’Neil) paints a picture of the Negro Leagues that is fascinating, uplifting, inspiring, entertaining and hopeful. Amazing images danced through my mind as I read about Buck O’Neil’s journey through life. I could envision Baseball fields I have never visited in my mind. Men, whose faces I have never seen came to life on the pages in this book. Stories I had never heard before became something special for me to share with others. And one man’s life became an example of what it means to be truly blessed.

Buck O’Neil has given me many more reasons to not only love baseball more; he’s also shown me how to appreciate life itself. It’s a precious gift for sure.

O’Neil often said he was “right on time” when it came to where he was at any point in his life. He didn’t wish to be born at a different time and had no desire to change anything about his life.

I believe the end of my train ride today combined with my reading the final word in the book at the same time some how relates.

Whenever I get off the train and head up the escalator and out into the city; I’m often greeted with the stench of urine in the air. I always feel like my senses are being assaulted. Things like this tend to taint my view of downtown L.A. and I can’t get out fast enough.

However, today was different. As I walked to my office, I searched the faces of the people walking or standing about. I wondered about their stories and believe it or not, I wondered how the life lessons in a book like the Soul of Baseball might impact their lives.

O’Neil was a man who had every reason to be angry or bitter or even sad and yet instead; he was loving, gracious, humble, and kind.

Posnanski’s life was changed by his relationship with O’Neil. No doubt O’Neil impacted many lives in positive ways over the course of his lifetime and his wisdom and strength to do that was born out of his love for baseball.

You have to love a game that can do that.

Eight days until pitchers and catchers report.

BallHype: hype it up!


  1. Posnanski has been the best sportswriter in America for years; I'm sorry it took me so long to discover him. You want a good cry? Read this blog post he did on Stan Musial, probably my favorite baseball column ever.


  2. GREAT book. Read it last summer. I keep forgetting to go out and get the Big Red Machine book. Not that anything can come close to topping the O'Neill book, but I'm pretty sure Poz will make it fascinating...