The Soul of Baseball

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

by Joe Posnanski

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About the Book:

This book sat on my shelf for nearly 18 months. What a huge mistake. I feel like I missed 18 months knowing my new best friend.

I have to admit, I had never heard of Buck O’Neil. Now I’ll never forget him.

This book revolved around the author, Joe Posnanski, criss crossing America with Buck O’Neil in 2005. Buck was in his 90’s but never used that as an excuse or crutch. Except to be the 1st person to board a plane.

Buck grew up during a different era than us. He played in the Negro League then went on to have a historic coaching career, eventually becoming the first African-American coach in the MLB.

There is no doubt through his life & career he experienced awful, hateful, terrible things. Things that could easily break down most individuals. Things that could be used as a legitimate excuse for bitterness or hate towards others.

But Buck was no normal person. Buck was an eternal optimist with a positive attitude that was unbreakable.

Remember, I had no idea who this guy was, yet 5 pages into the book I looked at my wife & said “I want to be more like Buck O’Neil.”

Buck was 1 of the forces behind creating & sustaining the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. That work, plus his playing & managing career seemed to put him on the path towards the MLB Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, he was passed over.

But this book is about way more than baseball. This book is about approaching life with optimism & a positive attitude. This book is about relationships. This book is about memories.

Over the course of 250ish pages I felt like I got to know my new best friend. Buck passed away over a decade ago just shy of his 95th birthday. The last couple of chapters hurt. You can tell in my video above that I was a little emotional after completing the book. Do not let that keep you from reading it.

“The Soul of Baseball” is suddenly 1 of my all time favorite books.

I want to be more like Buck O’Neil.

About The Author:

Joe Posnanski is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Paterno. He is a national columnist for NBC Sports and was a senior writer at Sports Illustrated from 2009 to 2012. In 2012, he was named National Sportswriter of the Year by the Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame. Before joining SI, he was a columnist for the Kansas City Star for fifteen years, and was twice named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is the author of four books and has been anthologized widely. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his family.