Andre's Reviews > The Soul of Baseball

The Soul of Baseball by Joe Posnanski
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Mar 13, 2010

it was amazing
Read in February, 2011

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 but felt like I’ve known my whole life, was widely known as America’s ambassador to baseball and, especially, the Negro Leagues. Although he never played in the Major Leagues, Buck O’Neil was the first Black man to coach at that level. He was also a longtime scout. More importantly, though, he was a fun, charismatic, and loveable guy who made you laugh, cry, and think.

At the book begins, Buck is 93 going on 94, and still maintaining a full schedule of promotions, interviews, public appearances, and campaigning on behalf of other former Negro League players for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Posnanski does an excellent job of weaving poignant stories from O’Neil’s past into the present day’s story. There are also references to past stars like Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Ernie Banks, and others. And it all seems natural—because it is all natural.

Posnanski shows Buck to be an example of how free and easy a man can live when he doesn’t hold onto the negatives in life. By painting the portrait of O’Neil that we see in The Soul of Baseball, we readers can see how much our burdens bring us down. And Buck shows us that we don’t have to be that way.

Going in, I knew how the story would end. Still, The Soul of Baseball made me feel good. Buck O’Neil’s words and life are good life lessons that come across in an impactful way without the slightest bit of preaching. The further I read, I kept thinking that I want to have that man’s disposition when I get that old.

The Soul of Baseball was an excellent, excellent read. I’m pretty sure I’ll reread this one every couple of years for the rest of my life. You should, too.
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