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Buck O'Neil recalls his first season as a Kansas City Monarch

John "Buck" O'Neil in his Kansas City Monarchs uniform
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
John "Buck" O'Neil was a member of the Kansas City Monarchs as a player and manager for almost 20 years.

Negro Leagues historian Phil Dixon has a new book about the legendary baseball player and ambassador. It allows readers to hear excerpts of recorded interviews with Buck O'Neil.

Buck O'Neil is an icon in the baseball world. Whether it's his time with the Kansas City Monarchs, making history as the first Black coach in Major League Baseball or his role in establishing the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, his accomplishments seem endless.

In "John 'Buck' O'Neil: The Rookie, His Words, His Voice," Phil Dixon revisits the first year of O'Neil's tenure with the Monarchs. Dixon hopes the book generates even more interest in the history of the Negro Leagues and Black baseball.

"My thing is to make sure that people are just not getting interest in it just for the uniforms or something like that," he says. "I want them to walk away with some real history about the league and the players and what they experienced, and what it took to be a successful player in the Negro baseball leagues in America."

In 1985, Dixon had intended to do in-depth interviews with O'Neil for each of his seasons with the Monarchs. The first session lasted four hours and the focus was Buck's first year in Kansas City. They never did get around to doing interviews for subsequent seasons, but Dixon held onto those tapes which greatly informed the content in the book.

One of the more exciting features in the biography is QR codes at various places throughout the book that can be scanned with a smartphone. These will send readers to the audio recordings of Buck discussing the topics at those points in the book. Dixon says he got the idea for this in 2018 when an author at a book fair he attended had incorporated it into their work.

"When I saw that, I'm thinking about all these recordings, tape recordings that I had, that I never used," he recalls. "There's 11 QR codes in the book, and they're from 1985 interviews that Buck and I did."

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