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I Was Right On Time Paperback – June 12, 1997

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I Was Right On Time + The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (June 12, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068483247X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684832470
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #183,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Told by a great storyteller.
George E. Hamm Jr.
If you are true fan of baseball, this book is a MUST read.
Flatbush Escapee (flatbush_skp@hotmail.com)
I've always loved the life of Buck O'Neil.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mathew A. Shember VINE VOICE on September 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Lou Dials at a Baseball card convention. He was there with a small table, some cards, and some baseballs. I didn't know who he was and he kind of looked out of place. My curiosity made me ask. "ok so what are you doing here and I am sorry to ask who are you?" He smiled and asked "Have you ever heard of the Negro leagues?" To which I replied of course and named the common known names such as Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, and of course Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays. He smiled and said he played with them and spoke of others such as Buck O'Neil.

What started as a simple query with what I figured would be a quick thanks and move on turned into an hour or two. I ended up buying a ball and his cards to which he signed the ball and his card.

I later found this book on amazon and remember what Lou had mentioned; I picked it up. This book is a fun read. It reads like you are listening to the man.

This book tells you stories about the characters and great athletes he knew. He writes with passion about their playing abilities. You will get to hear about Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Bullet Joe Rogan, Martin Dihigo, Newt Allen, Jesse Williams, Willard Brown, Frank Duncan and many others of the Negro leagues.

He also mentions the club life of the days and eating with Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Big Joe Turner, Dinah Washington and Duke Ellington.

There are little tidbits of information that you normally don't know such as the fact that Louis Armstrong and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson owned teams.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Best Of All on November 29, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not simply an autobiography, but an oral-history on where we have been and where we are going. It was written from the heart, and - if you read closely - it will open yours to live life in a different, better way.

I read the book when it was initially published and recently purchased the soft-cover edition. Rarely do I re-read a book, but I felt the need after hearing Buck O'Neil's moving and uplifting speech this summer at the Baseball Hall of Fame and listening to a rebroadcast of an interview conducted several years ago by radio sports-talker Jim Rome.

The road to racial equality remains long and steep, but by gazing upward you may view what appears to be a finish-line tape rippling in the breeze at the top of the mountain. But look ahead and you see the harsh reality that the road remains unfortunately rugged, with many twists & turns.

Buck O'Neil is an American hero and if your eyes are dry after reading the last page of I Was Right On Time (no matter how many times you read the book), then your heart may not have opened up wide enough to tackle the journey ahead.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert Jordan on March 23, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I became aware of Buck O'Neil through the video series "Baseball" by Ken Burns. I found the book to be full of many of the same qualities I enjoyed about Buck's contributions to the video: His love of the game and the people he knew who played it. There are plenty of stories about well-known negro league players we all know of, but I think you'll enjoy hearing about other great players almost no one else has remembered. I also praise this book and the author for staying positive and for seeing the good in life rather than dwelling on its many injustices. This is a precious man and I think you'll enjoy this book as a chance to "meet" him.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K.A.Goldberg on December 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
This easy-going autobiography combines sunny optimism, seriousness, and rich baseball history. John J. "Buck" O'Neil was a first baseman in the Negro Leagues during the 1930-1940's, and he then spent another half decade in baseball, both in the Negro Leagues and in the majors. Here he recounts his upbringing in Florida during segregation (where he was denied entry to high school) and his long career in baseball. O'Neil details life in the Negro leagues, including barnstorming and low pay, playing for the famed Kansas City Monarchs and his friendship with stars like Satchel Paige and Hilton Smith. He also describes managing in the Negro Leagues, coaching for the Chicago Cubs (the first black coach in the majors) and spending decades as a baseball scout. O'Neil is an intelligent man gifted with great charm, and he's often described as the "ambassador to baseball." That charm shines in the prose of co-writers Steve Wolf and David Conrads, and lets O'Neil attack injustice without losing effectiveness via stridency.

Buck O'Neil gained fame from the "Baseball" documentary by Ken Burns, and at this writing remains a board member for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City well into his 90's. This is a readable look at the Negro leagues by one of its most charming members.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David S. Robbie on August 31, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I knew about Buck O'Neil from Ken Burns, Baseball series. Unfortunately, I did not see much of it. The past month I heard an interview with Buck O'Neil on the radio. He was such a gracious man and kind. I knew I wanted to read his book.

His book is wonderful. It is great to get insights and details of the negro leagues of the past. Like all of us, past memories tend to change and brighten over the passage of time. I see this book as an uplift. His attitude is wonderful and is an inspiration to everyone. No matter where we are or when we are born, we are "right on time". We all are serving a purpose for a greater good.

The book does read like you are sitting right next to Buck and he is talking with you. I highly recommend this book to all baseball fans as it gives a glimpse into the baseball history. The negro leagues are such a big part of this history. I do believe some of the greatest players were in the negro leagues. As a baseball fan, I plan to read other books on the negro leagues to learn more about it. I became a member of the Negro League Baseball Museum because of this book. I hope to get a chance to see it someday. You can't help getting touched by this book and the simple message of graciousness and love it has throughout.
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