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4.5 out of 5 stars
I Was Right On Time
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 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.

He also talks about the legends of Cool Papa Bell's speed; how he was once called out when his own batted ball hit him rounding first and that he could turn off a light and get into bed before it went dark. The latter is actually true and he tells you why!

You also read about the end of the Negro leagues with the rise of Jackie Robinson.

Mr. O'Neil went on to manage the Monarchs and eventually scout and became the first African American to coach for the Major leagues.

As a scout he signed many players, Oscar Gamble, Lou Brock, Joe Carter, Bo Jackson. He mentions his one failure was missing Bob Gibson.

One of the things you will read is his admiration for his friend Satchel Paige, he is mentioned many times and he even tells you a story how Satchel nicknamed him Nancy.

In the book, he mentions that if you can get a copy of Satchel Paige's autobiography "Maybe I'll pitch forever" do it. After reading this I would think it's a safe bet.

After living the life he had and the people he played with and against, meeting music legonds, meeting Presidents Truman and Clinton, one of his proudest moments was getting his highschool diploma from the very school that wouldn't admit him. Mr. O'Neil is a special person. Even with what he went through living in the Jim Crow era, he seems to have managed to remain a kind and generous individual.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2006
Format: PaperbackVerified 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
on March 23, 2000
Format: PaperbackVerified 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
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
on August 31, 2004
Format: PaperbackVerified 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
What a great book. How I would have loved to just sit with Buck and just talk and listen to him and his stories. I also learned some new things about Sarasota, FL and all the great players in the Negro Leagues and people in general. Now more than ever I believe he is a Hall of Famer and he should be in there. He might not have been the greatest player... but he was a GREAT man. If you want to read a great book that will make you laugh.. smile.. maybe tear up... this book is for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book is as good as it gets. I bought this book shortly before Buck O'neil passed. I heard over the radio the week before and he was as intriguing on this book as he was in life. He takes you through the many travels of the [...] Leagues. Buck wrote this book from his own words and he would paint the picture so amazing. The knowledge i got from this book is something to talk about, and i do. Like the book says, He was right on time! and we are so privileged.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Buck O'Neil writes as if he is speaking directly to you. You feel his warmth, passion, and humor in every page. I first saw Buck O'Neil on Ken Burns baseball documentary and after reading his book I see why he was considered such an important figure in baseball. If you are a baseball fan you should read this book.
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on July 30, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
A joyous experience to relive Buck's early barnstorming days, his Kansas City Monarchs years as player and later as manager, and finally as a coach and scout for the Cubs. Buck's attitude that one should count one's blessing and love what you do permeate his life story. Buck is an excellent story teller, who brings out the personalities of the eclectic group of interesting folks who made up his life. Satchel Paige playing no small part. One discovers how Buck earns the nickname "Nancy" while trying to cover for his friends amorous escapade.

Buck describes his first and second team Negro League All Star selections justifying his selections by describing their specific attributes and weaknesses. He notes that players left for a third team could be the best yet: Willard Brown, Judy Johnson, Roy Campanella, Larry Doby and Ernie Banks. Quite the bench wouldn't you say?

Buck missed playing in MLB but coached and scouted for the Cubs and later Royals. However, Buck was denied the opportunity to manage the Cubs. He was denied these opportunities because of ignorance and prejudice. Yet he counted his blessings noting the great experiences he had playing in Negro League World Series or East West All Star games. The game situations and varied personalities are vividly brought to life. The game is brought out of the shadows and it is a joy to experience.

The book is very well written. One gets the experience of getting to truly know Buck and his contemporaries.

A must read for Buck O'Neil or Negro League ball fans.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
Buck O'Neil is a man with a story to tell - one of courage, hard work, joy, love, and history. Homespun, told as if Buck was sitting across from the reader, O'Neil reveals the bright side of a very sad period of history where great players were denied the opportunity to compete in the Major Leagues simply because of the color of their skin, but where great competition and inspiration occurred on the backroads and big cities of America as members of the Negro Leagues played all over the Western Hemisphere.
Buck refuses to be sad over the lost opportunity of playing in the Majors, but instead revels in being able to play with and against some of the finest players in the history of baseball. Because so many of his contemporaries had this same spirit, they enjoyed their lives and ended up paving the way for the Major Leagues to be integrated. This event is so much more than a mere baseball event, but an event that changed America in a great and grand way!
Reading this book was inspirational to me, and let me see that no matter what the circumstances, good can be found if you look for it. Buck is a person who reveals the secret of life - love others.
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