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The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's Americaby Joe Posnanski
Synopses & Reviews
What was your best day in baseball?
When ninety-three-year-old Negro Leagues legend Buck O'Neil asked his friend this question, Kansas City sports columnist Joe Posnanski found that he did not have a clear answer. Posnanski could not help but think about steroids and large egos and so many of the negative things that had begun to identify big-money baseball. But O'Neil insisted that he look deeper, and Posnanski then remembered the warm summer evenings of his childhood and playing catch with his father until they had to throw the ball high to see it against the dying light.
Hang on to your day, Buck O'Neil said. If you hang on to your day, you will stay young.
With that, O'Neil led Posnanski on a cross-country journey to discover the soul of baseball-- and a few secrets of life along the way. O'Neil had lived and played baseball during a time when African Americans were not welcome in the Major Leagues. But he held no bitterness. Instead, he remembered nights filled with hot jazz and sunny afternoons of playing baseball with brilliant players such as Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Turkey Stearnes. I lived, man, O'Neil said.
In The Soul of Baseball, Posnanski revives the game through the eyes of Buck O'Neil, baseball's greatest ambassador. They traveled from New York to San Diego, Atlanta to Chicago. They crossed paths with Hall of Famers like Willie Mays, Roger Clemens, and Monte Irvin. They watched kids play on a small diamond on the Kansas prairies and millionaires play at Major League parks. O'Neil's stories form the heart of this book-- the day he hit for the cycle and also met his beloved wife, Ora; the time he saved Billy Williams's career; and how he kept a promise to Hilton Smith to get him into the Hall of Fame. O'Neil also shared the wisdom and joy of his years-- with Buck anything could lead to a life lesson, even something as simple as a baseball tossed into the stands or a woman wearing a bright red dress.
When legendary Negro League player Buck O'Neil asked Joe Posnanski how he fell in love with baseball, the renowned sports columnist was inspired by the question. He decided to spend the 2005 baseball season touring the country with the ninety-four-year-old O'Neil in hopes of rediscovering the love that first drew them to the game.
The Soul of Baseball is as much the story of Buck O'Neil as it is the story of baseball. Driven by a relentless optimism and his two great passions—for America's pastime and for jazz, America's music—O'Neil played solely for love. In an era when greedy, steroid-enhanced athletes have come to characterize professional ball, Posnanski offers a salve for the damaged spirit: the uplifting life lessons of a truly extraordinary man who never missed an opportunity to enjoy and love life.
An award-winning sports columnist and a baseball legend tour the country to recapture the joys and wonders of America's greatest pastime.
About the Author
A senior writer at Sports Illustrated, Joe Posnanski has twice been named the Best Sports Columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work at the Kansas City Star. He is the author of The Good Stuff and The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America, which won the prestigious Casey Award for best baseball book of 2007. His work has also been anthologized in Best American Sports Writing, and he lives with his family in Kansas City, Missouri.
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