BUCK STOPPED HERE!
Negro League Star Honored for a Century of Inspiration
CITY, CA The 2003 Positive Image Awards
proved more than a festive party and successful fundraising
event. It was an evening of genuine inspiration and thoughtful
reflection led by a man who is a living American icon
of hope, John Buck ONeil. It began with
an introduction by emcee Rick Monday that left a lump
in everyones throat. It seems Rick had met Buck
back in 1965, his rookie season with the Kansas City As.
Buck provided an enduring impression on that young rookie
and Rick used the occasion to thank him for that lasting
touch, left so many years ago. ONeill and Monday
embraced warmly as he reached the stage and then our 2003
Ernie Banks Positive Image Award winner began mesmerizing
the BAD devotees with a song.
followed with recollections of a playing & managing
career in the Negro Leagues and coaching & scouting
career in Major League Baseball that might make the average
listener inquire if he wasnt regretful that he was
born too late to have enjoyed a successful playing career
in the Majors. But Buck will have not of that. I
was born right on time, he humbly explained to an
eager crowd. Right on time to see Jackie Robinson break
the color barrier that separated Major League and Negro
League Baseball. Right on time to stand on a street corner
with pitching great Satchel Page in a southern U.S. town
where slaves were once auctioned and realize that the
two of them would now be playing professional baseball
in that town, albeit in a segregated league.
historian, part motivational preacher, Buck ONeil
instructed us, Dont feel bad for me. Ive
had a glorious life playing baseball and I hate no one.
From there, this baseball legend who gained national prominence
with his memorable narration of Ken Burns PBS documentary
Baseball entertained, motivated and enchanted
as he spun memorable tales of his life both on
and off the field.
State Attorney General Bill Lockyer was honored with BADs
Positive Image for Action in Government
award for his commitment to youth through education initiatives
and tougher penalties for crimes against children. Lockyer
rarely attends events like our gala, so BAD was thrilled
to learn he had accepted our invitation to be honored.
Unfortunately, the Attorney General suffered a painful
back injury and was under doctors orders that day
to stay in bed.
Positive Image for Action in the Community
honors were the McDonalds Operators Association
of Southern California and Simi Valley Planning Commissioner
Bob Swoish. McDonalds has been a steadfast sponsor
of BADs Southern California minor league tours for
three straight summers. McDonalds Homeruns for
Life clinics now boast attendance of 300-500 children
per clinic. Local owners Clay Paschen III and Neil Ruby
proudly represented McDonalds.
from BADs hometown, Bob Swoish was lauded for over
40 years of community dedication. The truth is, when he
is not on the road with his current job at Northrop Gruman
Corporation, you will find Bob chairing or serving on
one or more city, church, or YMCA committees.
guests were abundant including former Negro League stars
Neale Henderson and Ross Davis, who surprised Buck upon
his arrival. Former pro Ted Milner, now Founder and CEO
of the Black Baseball Players Association joined us as
well. With focus on players who excelled in a league of
their own, it was only fitting to welcome All American
Girls Professional Baseball League star Pepper Davis.
Honored by Baseballs Hall of Fame, Peppers
own baseball legacy helped inspire the movie A League
of Their Own for which she served as key advisor to
director Penny Marshall.
you missed the fun, spirit and excitement, then make plans
early to attend next years event. We are scheduled
to celebrate all over again on January 29, 2004 at the
galas regular home the Sheraton Universal
Hotel in Universal City, California.
Past Recipients 2001