Thursday, March 02, 2006

Hall of Shame?

A friend of ours (really, my husband's friend) from Pittsburgh, Rob Ruck, is a Professor in the History Department at the University of Pittsburgh. Rob has written a number of books on the Negro Leagues and Latino baseball, such as Sandlot Seasons about sports in Black Pittsburgh, and he teaches a sports in history class at Pitt. Dave (my husband) spent time with Rob as he did the research on that book, interviewing a number of the players from the Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Homestead Grays.

Rob was on the Committee for Special Election: Negro Leaguers and Pre-Negro Leagues to the Hall of Fame. In fact, Dave spoke to him about the induction of Effa Manley, whom they both met during their travels in researching Rob's book. See, NYT article on Manley, Woman Among 17 Elected to Hall of Fame.

As I've mentioned many times before (and as anyone who knows me knows), I am not a sports fan. However, if I had to pick a sport, baseball is the most tolerable. I even go to a baseball game with Dave and our daughter annually (I bring a book for the boring parts). But the politics and history part of baseball (or sports, generally) can be interesting. For example, this story caught my attention (and is something Dave will no doubt be interested in).

Sports blogger Pinstripe Alley has a post about the election results, Buck O'Neil gets Denied the Hall of Fame. Apparently, O'Neil, who is ninety-four years old, was first baseman on four pennant winners and manager of five more in the old Negro Leagues, and was the first man of color to be a coach in the major leagues. The post notes the omission of Buck O'Neil and includes the video from Keith Olbermann, which had a segment on Countdown on the issue. Like the Committee Members, Olbermann is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, and he's incensed over the exclusion. I don't know about his talents in baseball, but I watched the video and the man is a class act of the first degree. The NYT also has an article on the controversy, Hall Still Has Time to Honor Buck O'Neil.

Back to our friend Rob. He & his son Alex co-wrote an article, "The Negro Leagues and the Contradictions of Social Darwinism" reprinted at Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. And Rob's currently writing a bio of Art Rooney, see Pittsburgh: A Big Happy Company Town, with his wife Maggie.

UPDATE: Countdown with Keith Olbermann has a follow up interview with O'Neil on this issue, Buck O'Neil talks about Hall of Fame rejection.

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