Museum planned for Buck O'Neil gets donations

10/3/2006 - MLB

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Donations are coming in for a building honoring Buck O'Neil, the ailing 94-year-old Negro Leagues great.

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City started a campaign in August to raise at least $1 million toward construction of the Buck O'Neil Education and Research Center. Organizers hope the target is met by Nov. 11, when a party is planned to mark O'Neil's 95th birthday.

Museum spokesman Bob Kendrick said about $100,000 has arrived, with at least $65,000 coming in since Sept. 17, the day O'Neil was hospitalized for extreme fatigue. He remained hospitalized Tuesday.

"There's been a sense of urgency," Kendrick said. "Hopefully, there's a way that Buck can still be there for that celebration. Heaven forbid, but if something were to happen between now and then we would still celebrate his life."

O'Neil, a former player-manager of the Kansas City Monarchs and the first black to serve as a major-league coach, fell one vote short of admission into the Hall of Fame in February.

The Education and Research Center, a $15 million museum expansion project, would include classrooms, a research library, a technology center and exhibit space. What isn't raised through private donations would be covered by state and federal help, organizers say. The research center is to be completed late next year.