By In Stuff

Buck’s Best Day

From “The Soul of Baseball”

Buck would have turned 105 on Sunday. For his friend and mine, Bob Kendrick, I pulled out the story about Buck O’Neil’s best day.

* * *

“What was your best day?” I asked him. I’d heard him tell it a hundred times. I wanted to know if he was awake.

“Easter Sunday, 1943, Memphis, Tennessee,” he said immediately. He opened his eyes. “I was first baseman for the Kansas City Monarchs then. We were playing the Memphis Red Sox. First time up, I hit a double. Next time I hit a single. Third time up, I hit the ball over the left field fence for a home run. Fourth time up, I hit a long fly ball to right field. As I ran to first I yelled, “Hit the fence! Hit the fence!” The … ball … hit … the … fence. It skipped past the outfielder. I ran around the bases. My third-base coach called me home. I could have had an inside-the-park home run. But I stopped at third. You know why?”

“Cycle,” I said.

“I got the cycle. Singled, double, triple, home run. That night I was at the hotel relaxing. My friend Dizzy Dismukes comes up to my room and says, ‘Buck, there are some people downstairs I want you to meet.’ They were teachers from the local school. I walked downstairs and walked right up to one of those teachers. I said, ‘My name is Buck O’Neil, what’s yours?’ That was Ora. And we were married for 51 years.”

Buck smiled as he always did when the story ended. “That was my greatest day,” he said. “Easter Sunday, 1943. I hit for the cycle and met my Ora.”

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6 Responses to Buck’s Best Day

  1. Charlie Pearce says:


  2. PhilM says:

    And there’s no doubt which event made the day the best: a cycle happens in a day, but 51 years make a lifetime.

  3. Jerry Horne says:

    Joe, I never get tired of Buck stories. I was fortunate to meet him twice in airports waiting for a plane to come home to KC. We spent about 45 minutes chatting both times. I know he didn’t remember me, but he sure acted like we were old friends. Such a great ambassador for baseball and Kansas City. Anyone who met him, is still mourning his passing. Happy Birthday Buck!

  4. Mark says:

    I love reading this story no matter how many times you post it. Thank you, Joe.

  5. Rob Smith says:

    A cycle is really cool and I can see why he stayed with the Triple. But an inside the park homerun is pretty cool too. I don’t think I could have stopped at 3rd having a shot at an inside the parker. A Triple is an adrenaline shot…. but an inside the park homerun? Even better.

  6. mike clarkin says:

    See Bob Veale’s SABR comments reference not so positive view of Buck. I was attending Maur Hill when Veale was pitching for St Benedicts – I remember him as a basketball player. While at Maur Hill played against recently deceased Ray Sadecki (ward). Both discussed by Ellis together – both hard throwing left handers whose career’s were not helped by the lowering of the lowering of the mound in 68.

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