Reader reviews for The Soul of Baseball

Amazing story filled with anecdotes about an incredible individual who believed in baseball, but even more so, believed in goodness and light. Buck O'Neil is the type of person that makes a lasting impact.
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My son, Jeremy, always gives me good books. He doesn't just pick up the latest best-seller, but takes the time to choose something special just for me. He hit a home run with The Soul of Baseball by Joe Posnanski. It's the story of an extended road trip Posnanski took with legendary Negro League player and manager Buck O'Neil. The lessons learned along the way are great ones for sons and fathers to share.Posnanski, an award-winning sports columnist for the Kansas City Star, chose not to write a biography of the irrepressible O'Neil, even though the story could bear to be told over and over again. Instead, he penned a moving memoir of the year he spent with the then-93-year-old O'Neil as he toured the country promoting the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City and the memory of those men who played the game in the days before whites and blacks could share the field. The trip takes them everywhere from Nicodemus, Kansas, to New York, New York, and O'Neil has a fascinating story to tell at every stop.He talks about Satchel Paige, Willie Mays, and Josh Gibson, names that will always be enshrined in baseball's collective memory. But he also tells the tales of forgotten men like Dan Bankhead, the first black pitcher in the major leagues, who would have been a great hurler if he hadn't been afraid to pitch fastballs inside against white batters.The key theme of the book is Buck O'Neil's spirit-lifting embrace of the best in every person he met. Despite years of back-breaking struggle, O'Neil never turned bitter, never condemned anyone for their prejudice, never had a bad word to say about the often ugly conditions the black ball players endured. Even when he failed to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Buck O'Neil refused to be angry about it. To make up for the egregious mistake, the Hall awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award after his death.The lessons Posnanski drew from his experiences with O'Neil are well worth telling and the book he created from them is well worth reading.
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A book to be read slowly and cherished. I didn't know anything about Buck O'Neil before I started this book - I picked it up because I recently became a fan of Joe Posnanski's blog. But the story of this man and how he lived life is a real treat.
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Even if you don't know a baseball from a basketball and care even less about the distinction, this book is well worth the read. Buck O'Neil was an inspiration to people of all colors, shapes and sizes and proof that while age might slow you down physically, it is not an obstacle for the soul. He was fighting for what he believed at ninety-four, and his efforts to keep the history of the Negro Leagues and its amazing players alive, vibrant and relevant are still paying off and will continue to do so.O'Neil's stories, as told to Joe Posnanski, are alternately touching, reflective, and laugh out loud funny. But really touched me was O'Neil's quiet dignity. He wasn't about to forget the injustices done to African-American players before and for some time after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, but he wasn't going to let bitterness and rancor swallow him, either. O'Neil was adamant in viewing people as, well, people: shades of good and bad in every single one of us. He wouldn't get drawn into condemning others, whether it was exploitative baseball owners of old or steroid-using baseball players of today. I only wish I could have been one of those people who lined up to shake his hand at baseball events before he died, just before his ninety-fifth birthday.Joe Posnanski's words are a wonderful tribute to O'Neil, and he's a terrific story spinner in his own right. The book is immensely enjoyable to read. Highly recommended.
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This is one of the best books I've read. Buck O'Neil was/is a true inspiration. What a marvelous man he was. In addition to wonderful tales of the Negro Leagues, this book really is about Buck himself. What he lived through, how he faced life. A tremendous character. I deeply regret not having made it to the Negro Leagues Museum before he passed away. We truly lost something precious when he passed. Highly recommended regardless of whether you're a baseball fan. If we all lived life as Buck did the world would be a better place.
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