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

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  2,772 Ratings  ·  220 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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Kim Neither. They talk about baseball and a little about jazz music in Kansas City during the 30s.

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Sean Gibson
Mar 11, 2015 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 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
This is a really important book about keeping the memory and history of the Negro Leagues alive, but instead of trying to recap the book or Buck O'Neil's stories, I'll leave you with two quotes in O'Neil's own words:

Before Jackie Robinson, there were men who played baseball. And we were good... People who saw us, man, we could play. We made a difference in this world.

What did I tell you? People say baseball's dead. Baseball doesn't die. People die. Baseball lives on.
Nov 18, 2013 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
Mar 13, 2010 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 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
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball, sports
I had never heard of Buck O'Neil, and most of the other players mentioned in this book, because they played in the Negro League. Their nicknames, their stats, their teammates, are lost to history as old age takes them.

This glimpse into the life, baseball career, and gentle activism of a man pushing for recognition in the face of racism, was a beautiful, bittersweet memoir of an era in baseball that I wish I knew more about.
Todd Stockslager
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
Review title: Yes, I cried

Buck O'Neil was the real narrator of the Ken Burns Baseball documentary series, his story winding through and around the history of the game he wasn't allowed to play on its biggest stage. It was the first introduction for most Americans to this Negro League legend, who because of his soft spoken positive demeanor and Sarasota, Florida upbringing reminded so much of my grandfather who lived 50 years of his life in the same Gulf Coast town and spoke with the same accent
Andre Beauford
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bio, sports
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
Matt B.
Jul 10, 2015 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
Feb 06, 2010 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.
Apr 30, 2012 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.
Apr 20, 2013 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 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball, own
"In this life, you never walk by a red dress."
Nov 03, 2013 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
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this book. My father is a big baseball fan so reading it helped me to feel that I was getting a glimpse into him. The love of the game being passed from father to son is beautiful and I have memories of my father and brother outside playing catch. My father also shared this love by taking us to baseball games, particularly to see the Dodgers, his favorite team. He grew up in Southern California.

I like books about people and I have a lot of respect f
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Buck O'Neill was a national treasure. He was a tireless advocate for the Negro Leagues, their history, their museum and ultimately their place in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was unceasingly positive and always had a smile and a hug for everyone he met. He was funny, but he also had soul. Even into his 90s, he was still going strong.

Joe Posnanski starts this book brilliantly, by saying that he didn't really know what the book was about. That turns out to be true. The book is basically a collect
Matt Ely
Jun 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: baseball, biography
This book is highly anecdotal, highly personal. It's a fun read, and O'Neil is a compelling character. I'm not convinced it rose above its status as a collection of anecdotes, great as they may have been. I also felt the book lacked context building, as it tended to show repeated instances of throngs of people telling O'Neil how much they loved him without letting the reader know how he gained that stature directly. I didn't know anything about him before I read the book, and I felt like there w ...more
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Living in Kansas City and like a lot of people had met Buck this was a great book to remind us what exactly he meant to baseball and those great players in the Negro League. Bob Kendrick continues to make the museum one if the best anywhere and tell the story. Great book and x must for any baseball addicts like me
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Without question, the best baseball book I’ve ever read, and simultaneously so much more than a baseball book. Just a wonderful story about an incredible man, with anecdotes of nearly everything else about life thrown in.
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly remarkable book . This book is about the great sport of baseball , but not only that , it’s the story of Buck. Buck was a great man who endured so much playing during times where blacks people had their own league but he still managed to live up to 94 always joyful . An example to follow .
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is so uplifting. It is the story of Buck O’Neill and the Negro baseball leagues. You will feel like you sat with Buck and heard his stories face to face. You don’t need to be a baseball fan to enjoy this book.
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Easily one of my favorite books of ALL TIME. Do yourself a favor and read this book.
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Annual book in honor of Dad. Beautifully written about a man who loved the game and never became embittered by injustice.
Mar 21, 2016 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
Jan 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
I already knew I loved Buck O'Neil, and I already knew that I loved Joe Posnanski, so this was pretty much a shoe-in for a nice, happy, enjoyable read, and it certainly was.

Buck O'Neil is the Dalai Lama of the Negro Leagues. (Even though he died several years ago, I find it hard to use the past tense. He has done so much work, and his voices lives on in this book and in Ken Burns' documentary. Plus no one has taken up his role, so it is still his). He worked hard to spread the truth about the N
Audra Spiven
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball, favorites
Joe Posnanski defines Kansas City sportswriting for many people. I don't know exactly how long he covered Kansas City sports, but it was long enough for him to become beloved by an entire segment of the city: those of us who are sports fans. The Poz is mentioned frequently and fondly when Kansas Citians discuss good sportswriting. (Unfortunately, they're usually drawing unfavorable comparisons between Posnanski and one of his successors, Sam Mellinger. I have no problem with Mellinger. He's a go ...more
Jason Smith
Aug 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
I've been following Joe Posnanski's writing for some time now. I read most of his blog posts—golf and LeBron posts excepted—and try to hunt down his long form articles. His recent one on Musial in SI was great. There a lot's of reasons for why he's one of the very few sports writers I make an effort to read all of their work. Some of it is an affinity I hold for fellow Missourian (Pos wrote for the KC Star for a long time), and a reverence I hold to professional Royals fans, something that requi ...more
Bobby Mueller
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In The Soul of Baseball, sportswriter Joe Posnanski travels around the country with 93-year-old Buck O’Neil, a man who had been barred from playing major league baseball because of the color of his skin, but who comes across as a gentleman without the bitterness you might expect from someone who had been discriminated against for much of his life. Through Posnanski’s descriptive writing, we are welcomed into the world of Buck O’Neil, a world of joy, kindness, and thoughtfulness. Reading about Bu ...more
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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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“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.” 3 likes
“Son, in this life, you don’t ever walk by a red dress.” 2 likes
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