The beauty of former Negro League star Buck O'Neil's autobiography is its tone: it's filled with thankfulness for the life he's had. Born into an era of racial segregation, O'Neil--truly an inspirational presence in the Ken Burns documentary Baseball--has a right to be bitter for the opportunities denied him; instead, he is at peace with the opportunities he took. A man of unmistakable dignity, O'Neil is a marvelous storyteller, and I Was Right On Time reads like a fireside chat. He spins tales of baseball's barnstorming era, offers memories of his all-time Negro League all-star team, and weaves deft portraits of the stars he played with (and against), most affectionately his good friend and long-time teammate Satchel Paige. Still, O'Neil doesn't whitewash the past. He has stared down injustice and confronted insult, yet instead of lecturing, he opts to inform. Now in his 80s, O'Neil, as chairman of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, remains a living part of baseball memory. I Was Right On Time gives that memory a rich, resonant voice.
From Publishers Weekly
Although O'Neil was a star in the Negro baseball leagues for many years, starting with a semipro team at the age of 12 and signing with the pros at 23, he achieved his greatest fame as one of the major figures in Ken Burns's acclaimed PBS series Baseball. A first baseman, he played mostly for the Kansas City Monarchs. In 1941 he met Satchel Paige, with whom he developed a close friendship. He became the Monarchs' playing manager in 1948; when black baseball folded because of post-Robinson integration, he was a scout and a coach for the Chicago Cubs from 1956 to 1988; and he has scouted for the Kansas City Royals ever since. His autobiography, written with Wulf, an editor at Sports Illustrated, and freelancer Conrads, is a cornucopia of delightful anecdotes, including an episode that resulted in Paige dubbing him "Nancy" and the period when he played with the Zulu Cannibal Giants, who increased their take at the gate by barnstorming in grass skirts. No fan of the sport should miss this volume, which is as entertaining as it is informative. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour.
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