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.
“[A] poignant, very funny, and ultimately inspiring book.” Dave Barry
“[A] loving, lyrical effort by Joe Posnanski. One of the most original and winning baseball books in recent years.” Harvey Frommer
“Imagine, a year spent with Buck ONeil...you dont have to imagine it, its all here.” Bob Costas
“This book is flat-out terrific...If Gandhi had played baseball, he would have been Buck ONeill.” Leigh Montville, author of Big Bam and Ted Williams
“Posnanski masterfully conveys ONeils charisma and the rhythm of his words...A worthy paean to an American legend.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
An award-winning sports columnist and a baseball legend tour the country to recapture the joys and wonders of America's greatest pastime.
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.
About the Author
Joe Posnanski has been a sports columnist at the Kansas City Starsince 1996 and is a contributing writer to Sports Illustrated. He has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. His previous book, The Soul of Baseball, was the winner of the prestigious 2007 Casey Award for the best baseball book of the year. He has also won the nation's top honors as a feature writer and project writer, and he has been nominated for awards by the Associated Press Sports Editors nineteen times. In 2004, he became the first sportswriter to be nominated in four separate categories. Posnanski and his wife live in Kansas City, Missouri, with their two daughters.