NLBM announces plans for Buck O’Neil’s 105th Birthday
NLBM announces plans for Buck O’Neil’s 105th Birthday
Celebration includes women’s empowerment event with former Negro Leaguer Mamie “Peanut” Johnson; presentation of the Buck O’Neil Legacy Award; and concert with Brian Culbertson.
Kansas City, MO – The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) has announced plans to host a three-day series of programs and events in celebration of Buck O’Neil’s 105th birthday. The festivities begin Friday, Nov. 11 and concludes on Sunday, Nov. 13 with events being held at the NLBM (1616 E. 18th Street, KCMO) and Gem Theater (1615 E. 18th Street, KCMO).
For nearly a decade, O’Neil, who was born Nov. 13, 1911, in Carrabelle, FL, used his birthday to raise money and awareness for the NLBM. That selfless act resulted in more than $1-million in support for the museum he co-founded in 1990 and served as its Chairman of the Board for 16 years before his untimely death in 2006. Ten years after his passing, the NLBM continues the tradition of celebrating O’Neil’s illustrious life.
“All Buck ever wanted for his birthday was for people to visit and support the museum that he helped create, said Bob Kendrick, NLBM president. “For 16 years, Buck gave his all to build an institution that would pay rightful tribute to America’s unsung baseball heroes and worked tirelessly until the very end of his life to help our nation understand the importance of the Negro Leagues and its place in American history,” Kendrick said.
The celebration gets underway with “Beauty of the Game,” a women’s empowerment breakfast planned for 7:30 a.m., Friday, Nov. 11 at the NLBM. The event, exclusive for women and female student-athletes, sheds light on the pioneering role that the Negro Leagues had in not only breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier but breaking gender barriers in the United States. It happened when three talented women, Toni Stone, Mamie “Peanut” Johnson and Connie Morgan, took the field with the men in the late 40s and early 50s.
Stone led the way when she joined the San Francisco Sea Lions in 1949. In 1953, the Indianapolis Clowns signed the infielder to fill the roster spot of Hank Aaron after he was signed by the Boston Braves. Johnson, a diminutive 5’3″ pitcher with a strong right arm, teamed with Stone and compiled a 33-8 record in her two seasons with the team. In 1954, the Clowns signed Morgan to replace Stone after she was traded to the Kansas City Monarchs where she was managed by O’Neil.
Sadly, Johnson is the lone survivor of that history-making trio. But proudly, at age 80, she’s still touting their place in baseball history with spunk and gusto! She’ll share their story after the breakfast as the featured guest of a roundtable discussion at the Gem Theater beginning at 9 a.m.
On Saturday, Nov. 12, the NLBM will host a 10 a.m., ceremony to unveil bronze busts of Johnson, Stone and Morgan for permanent display at the museum. The bronze busts were created by renowned artist Kwan Wu, whose works include the life-size statues that adorn the museum’s Field of Legends. After the ceremony, Johnson will sign autographs until noon. The ceremony and autographs are free with a paid admission to the NLBM. There’s a limit of two autographs per person.
No one loved a good party more than O’Neil, and it’s in his fun-loving memory that his annual Birthday Bash gets underway at 6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 12 with a “red dress” inspired cocktail party at the NLBM and
continues at 8 p.m., at the Gem Theater with a tribute and concert by award-winning Smooth Jazz and R&B artist, Brian Culbertson.
The tribute will include the presentation of Buck O’Neil Legacy Awards to Michael Coleman, Sports Director, KCTV5 and Viacom. The award is presented annually to an individual and corporate partner in recognition of “Outstanding Support of the NLBM.” Coleman has been a staunch supporter of the NLBM since coming back to Kansas City in 2010. He has hosted many NLBM programs and has been an influential voice in promoting the museum’s mission. For the past several years, Viacom has been a significant NLBM partner having provided financial support of events such as the Buck O’Neil Golf Classic and last year’s 25th Anniversary Celebration. In addition, the media giant has provided national promotional muscle that has helped introduce the NLBM to a worldwide audience.
The celebration concludes on Sunday, Nov. 13 with the “6th Annual Gospel Salute to Buck.” For years, O’Neil led a cross-country crusade preaching the gospel of the Negro Leagues and the virtues of the NLBM to a legion of fans. The event features area gospel choirs, and other performers, who will raise the rafters of the Gem Theater. The gospel music extravaganza takes place at 3:30 p.m. and is free to the public.
“We believe that this celebration truly embodies Buck’s spirit and while it’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since he passed away, it’s heartwarming to see how Kansas City and the baseball world continues to keep his legacy alive. There’s no better way to remember Buck than to support the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum,” Kendrick said.
Proceeds from the Buck O’Neil 105th Birthday Celebration benefits the NLBM. For more information, call (816) 221-1920.
BUCK O’NEIL’S 105TH BIRTHDAY SCHEDULE
Schedule of Events
Friday, Nov. 11:
7:30 a.m.: Beauty of the Game Women’s Empowerment Breakfast at the NLBM (Women Only)
Tickets: $50 (includes program and one-year NLBM membership); $40 (NLBM members)
9:00 a.m.: Beauty of the Game discussion with Mamie “Peanut” Johnson at the Gem Theater
Tickets: Adults $20 (includes NLBM admission); Students $10 (includes NLBM admission)
Saturday, Nov. 12:
10:00 a.m.: Bronze Bust Ceremony honoring Toni Stone, Mamie “Peanut” Johnson & Connie Morgan
Tickets: Free with paid admission to the NLBM; autograph session with Johnson follows)
6:00 p.m..: Buck’s Bash Cocktail party at the NLBM
Tickets: $150 ($125 for NLBM Members)
8:00 p.m.: Tribute to Buck and concert featuring Brian Culbertson
Sunday, Nov. 13:
4:00 p.m.: 6th Annual Gospel Salute to Buck (Gem Theater)
For tickets or more information, call the NLBM at (816) 221-1920 or visit www.nlbm.com