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The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America

4.29  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,224 Ratings  ·  201 Reviews
When Legendary Negro League player Buck O'Neil asked sports columnist Joe Posnanski how he fell in love with baseball, Posnanski had to think about it. From that question was born the idea behind BASEBALL AND JAZZ. Posnanski and the 94 year old O'Neil decided to spend the 2005 baseball season touring the country in hopes of stirring up the love that first drew them to the ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 27th 2007 by William Morrow
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sean Gibson
Jul 30, 2015 Sean Gibson rated it it was amazing
This is an absolutely phenomenal book--Posnanski is a masterful writer. I reviewed this for Kirkus when it came out:
Nov 02, 2007 Bill rated it it was amazing
Kansas City sports writer follows Negro Leagues legend, Buck O'Neil, for a year across the country. It's a fabulous, bittersweet biography of sorts of O'Neil and the League itself. The bitterness comes from the reader as you read all the hardships and slights that black players endured to simply play the game. However, O'Neil is nothing but a gut-bucket Zen philosopher throughout the entire journey. So, while parts of it will definitely anger you, O'Neil's spirit is nothing short of awe-inspirin ...more
May 16, 2015 Grace rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All Baseball fans
To begin with: if you are a fan of baseball, you should read this book.

If you are a fan of Civil Rights, you should probably read this book.

This book made me smile on one page and cry on the next. It made me completely indignant about all of the injustices in the world, all of the unspeakably horrible things that happen in the tiniest actions (or inactions), and yet it left me unable to be truly angry about them - because that is the lesson of Buck O'Neil: How not to be bitter.

This book is incr
Feb 28, 2011 Andre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now that I’ve finished reading it, I can’t really classify The Soul of Baseball. It’s not really a baseball book. It’s certainly not a biography. I can’t even say it’s a portrait of a man. The Soul of Baseball is so much more than any of that. I guess that, more than anything, I can call it a gift. A gift. Yes. I like that.

The Soul of Baseball is the result of sportswriter Joe Posnanski spending a little more than a year traveling the United States with Buck O’Neil. Buck, a man I’ve never met bu
Sam Bauman
Mar 30, 2009 Sam Bauman rated it it was amazing
I bought this book a while ago. I really enjoy Posnanski's blog but I hadn't gotten around to reading the book. Well, I had kept it at work and was working late on an upgrade with some time to kill in the middle and it captured me so I had to read the whole thing pretty quickly.
The book is really just Joe following Buck O'Neil around for a while before Buck's death. But in the course of this he paints a wonderful picture of Buck O'Neil and what a good attitude he had despite what he went throug
Matt B.
Jul 13, 2015 Matt B. rated it it was amazing
The best sports book I've ever read that's not actually about sports. Its a quasi-biography about Buck O'Neil, a former Negro League player and manager, who even at 94 toured the country to spread awareness about the Negro Leagues' impact on baseball. A very quick read. Also, I'm not ashamed to admit it got a little dusty in my living room when reading the last 20 pages.

If you like American history, you will like this book.
If you like good people, you will like this book.
If you like books, you
Aug 28, 2013 Gavin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports, bio
First of all, even though I grew up Canadian, I was raised on baseball. That's the real love.
I love reading about baseball, I love the history of it, and I love a good story.
Add onto it that Joe Posnanski is one of the best baseball writers out there today and he's writing about the universally beloved Buck O'Neil and you've got all the potential for a winner.

It doesn't disappoint. A man who never got to play in the Majors because of 'his beautiful tan' never held onto bitterness or anger, inste
Sep 22, 2010 Janine rated it it was amazing
this is what it means to really love the game---and america.
i knew nothing about buck o'neil or the negro leagues and the gradual integration of baseball. now i do. however, i learned much more from this book than the historical facts.
i learned that life is what you make it. well, maybe i already knew that, but i don't think i've ever read anything that inspired me to believe it the way this book and buck o'neil the person did.
Jul 13, 2012 Tony rated it it was amazing
If you're not a baseball fan, know this: this is NOT a baseball book. It's a book about a very, very wise man who happened to play baseball a long time ago. There are a lot of well-known or famous people I would have liked to have met, but now that I've read this I actually regret not having met Buck O'Neil. Five minutes with him probably would have made me feel better about everything for the rest of my life.
Chad Supp
Jan 29, 2016 Chad Supp rated it it was amazing
"Son, in this life, you never walk by a red dress." - Buck O'Neil

It's January, and there seem to be a lot of "reading challenges" out there, which I guess are meant to help fulfill the resolutions of those who want to read more. At least, that's what I'm using a reading challenge for. So here's a different kind of reading challenge: Read Joe Posnanski's "The Soul of Baseball - A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America," and then try not to put it in your top ten list of favorite books.

Speaking o
Apr 20, 2013 D rated it really liked it
Buck O’Neil. Negro Leagues baseball player and manager. Major League coach and scout. And the driving force behind the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The author documents his travels with O’Neil in the last year of the 94-year-old’s life. The book is funny, inspiring, and touching, and a gift for those of us who weren’t fortunate enough to hear these words, “I’m Buck O’Neil. What’s your name?”
Apr 06, 2016 Dustin added it

One of the greatest players alongside Babe Ruth, Bo Jackson, Cool Papa Bell, and Lou Brock, was Buck O'Neil and his view of America. Buck is an uplifted soul. He wouldn't get bitter or negative. He once said, " Where does bitterness take you? To a broken heart? To an early grave? When I die, I want it to be from natural causes. Not from hate, eating me up from the inside." Buck’s writer friend, Joe Posnanski even said, it sounded something like a song, when he said it. He would see how joyful Bu
Jul 10, 2015 Fred rated it really liked it
This is a tremendous book that happens to be a baseball book. It is really about all sorts of things and yet only about one thing. It is about baseball and specifically the negro leagues before and just after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. It is also about memory and the interactions between generations. It touches on steroids in baseball but also on forgiveness and bitterness and joy. But in the end it is about one thing, more specifically one person, Buck O'Neil. Buck O'Neil ...more
Mar 25, 2014 Mark rated it it was amazing
"The Soul of Baseball" is the best book I have read in a long time. That's not hyperbole; it's the honest truth. Buck O'Neil was an absolutely fascinating human being, who played a more important role in baseball (and American, for my money) history than he was probably given credit for during his time. A truly inspiring man, you can't help but feel his positive attitude LEAPING off of the pages, and Posnanski did a marvelous job of capturing his spirit.

EVERY baseball fan should read this book.
Debbie Ladd
Jan 23, 2016 Debbie Ladd rated it it was amazing
This book was one of the first books I read as I began a summer travel course titled Baseball and American Society. I learned not only about Buck O' Neil, but also about a time in U.S. history that was just beyond my ability to remember. As a child of the 1960's in rural Maine, my interactions with people of other races, ethnicities, religious beliefs, etc. were very limited. Joe's book was the jumping off point for me to learn more about the Civil Rights issues faced (and still being faced) by ...more
David Molnar
Jul 26, 2014 David Molnar rated it liked it
You can't not like a book about Buck O'Neil, even if you're an old cranky fart like me. There are some touching and/or humorous stories here. I'm pretty sure I've read this before, presumably when I was younger and slightly less cranky. I like Joe Poz, but I didn't feel that this was an especially good fit - he's a sportswriter, and this is, well, not exactly sportswriting. It's about memory and hope and other worthwhile things. Posnanski is straightforward about this; he writes at the beginning ...more
Mar 20, 2015 louisa rated it it was amazing
The kind of book that makes you wake up an hour before your alarm the morning after you finish it and leaves you in a hopeful mood for days afterwards, looking for ways to help others and more than that, to remember "you've got to love this game to play it."

Joe Posnanski got to follow Buck O'Neil for the last year of his life as he traveled the nation, speaking about Negro Leagues history, hugging strangers, and helping others love life. Joe balances Buck's legendary stories with the man's own c
Apr 09, 2012 Natalie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball, own
"In this life, you never walk by a red dress."
Jun 18, 2015 Randal rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, baseball
I almost didn't read this book after I got it. The introduction is ... terrible. It's in two parts, "Warming up, a riff," which is a nice enough hello to Buck O'Neil's happy outlook on life and baseball, but the second part, "Buck O'Neil's America," is more about Joe Posnanski's midlife crisis as the genesis of this book than anything else and I have read enough midlife crisis and baseball musings (take a bow, George F***ing Will) to get me through life's seventh-inning stretch and then some.
Nov 30, 2014 Fred rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book to learn more about buck oneil, but that isn't what this book is at all. It's incredible, and a wonderful testament to the life that buck must have lived. This is a wonderful pickup for everyone who finishes it, because in reading it, you know that buck oneil loved you, and that was important to him.

I've seen him through the years in various ways and when I bought this book years ago, it sat unfinished while I poked around on the internet and played games, but this winter, I de
Roger Lansing
Feb 24, 2014 Roger Lansing rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book. Many of the reviewers within the book and on the book jacket compare this to Tuesdays With Morrie, and I guess that is inevitable considering that both books are written by sportswriters and both tell about a connection with a man over a course of time before the man eventually passes away. Funny, though, I did not connect those two books at all while reading this one.

Having had the pleasure of meeting and conversing with Buck O'Neil in the summer of 2006, I could hear
Dec 11, 2013 Sherrie rated it really liked it
Still shaken from reading "A House in the Sky", I picked up "The Soul of Baseball" from my library bag. Reading it was like putting a Band-Aid on my soul.

Buck O'Neil was a player and coach in the Negro Leagues. He was good but not great, so he was somewhat obscure behind players such as Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell. Then came Ken Burns' "Baseball" on PBS. It was Buck's coming out party. With a story for every occasion and a personality that lit up the screen, Buck became a star. It didn't chan
May 12, 2015 Pete rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorite-books
Recently I received a Nook as a graduation present. After loading up Game of Thrones on it, I decided I wanted to purchase an ebook right from my Nook. I must admit, I am a sucker for non-fiction works. I love reading autobiographies, biographies, and memoirs on a litany of topics. Most notably, I love non-fiction titles centered around sports heroes, villains,and sports history in general. Out of all the sports I love, the history of baseball always grabs me the most. Deciding to purchase a ba ...more
Josh Duggan
Dec 02, 2011 Josh Duggan rated it it was amazing
There is very little impartiality going into my thoughts on this book, as Posnanski is probably my favorite sports writer, and his blog was the first to be entered into the links section here.

That being said, this book was great. It was an incredibly fast read dedicated to a great man, whose efforts to spread the word about the colorful history of Negro League Baseball and his crowning achievement--the Negro League Hall of Fame--drove him to the end. As much as his efforts to keep the memory of
Apr 16, 2012 CS rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jimmy Autrey
Mar 19, 2012 Jimmy Autrey rated it it was ok
I love baseball. I love Buck O'Neil. Sadly, I did not love this baseball book about Buck O'Neil. As much as I was looking forward to getting into some really good baseball stories from a guy who really lived it I was left wanting. The book got such good ratings for its writing, but almost all of the chapters followed the same script! Buck and I go to a game honoring former Negro League ballplayers. Buck smiles as he autographs baseballs. Another Negro League player complains about how he was tre ...more
Nov 03, 2013 Zach rated it it was amazing
“Son, in this life, you never walk past a red dress”. The scene is a walk from the cab to the hotel. A beautiful woman is wearing a dress, perhaps waiting for the next cab. Our narrator and the 93 year old protagonist are worn out from their day and the narrator walks in. He’s in the lobby now, going through the check-in process and has lost his 93 year old friend. Instead, he’s outside, cheerfully laughing with the young lady. Not exactly flirting at this age, but just a show of appreciation pu ...more
May 15, 2011 Ralph rated it it was amazing
Not at all what you might think at first glance. This book is full of heart, full of soul, and full of the grace of this one man.
A tale of one man's goal to represent the Negro Leagues in all of its true condition - not as a minstrel-like, pathetic copy of white baseball, and not as a rose-colored glasses portrayal either. Just a man remembering the joy of the game, and the joy of the players who played it for the right reasons.
O'Neil just wanted people to know that talented people played for t
Michael McKinney
Nov 27, 2012 Michael McKinney rated it really liked it
Shelves: monster
This book is about A Sports columnist for the Kansas City Star, Joe Posnanski was trying to write a book about the Negro Leagues, but he wasn't getting nowhere at all at first . O'Neil had challenged him to write the first book that would describe what the Negro Leagues were really like, but Posnanski finally realized that he had to put aside his sports writer ego to accomplish the goal. He couldn't treat the people like regular journalists treat people when they cover stories like steroids, sky ...more
Daran Washington
“Baseball is for the Pastor and Baseball is for the Pimp.” – Buck O’Neil. This was by far one of the best books I've ever read. Joe Posnanski is a sports columnist who followed Buck O'Neil around America as Buck gave talks and visited with friends and watched baseball games. Buck the former all time legend tried to show how he experienced baseball back in his time. The book is great for the baseball fan. Buck O'Neil's stories from life and baseball are priceless.

Buck O'Neil is the Albert Pujols
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Joe Posnanski is national columnist for NBC Sports. He has been named National Sportswriter of the Year and twice was awarded the best sports columnist in America by The Associated Press Sports Editors.

He has written five books:

“The Good Stuff,” was a collection of columns.

“The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America,” won the Casey Award as best baseball book of 2007.

More about Joe Posnanski...

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“Son, in this life, you don’t ever walk by a red dress.” 0 likes
“In our beautiful memory We were all handsome. We all could sing. We all had the heart Of the prettiest girl in town. And we all hit .300.” 0 likes
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