The Orioles will honor Negro Leagues pioneer Buck O’Neil in a ceremony at their minor league facility, the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex at Twin Lakes Park, this Sunday, Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. The date marks the 100th anniversary of O’Neil’s birth.
O’Neil, who spent a portion of his childhood in Sarasota, was a star first baseman and manager in the Negro Leagues. He also scouted and coached in the major leagues and worked tirelessly to preserve and promote the history of the Negro Leagues until the time of his death in October 2006.
Sunday’s ceremony marks a rededication of the Orioles’ minor league training site, originally named in honor of O’Neil in 1995. Sarasota County Commissioner Carolyn Mason, District 1, and Sarasota County Commissioner Joe Barbetta, District 2, will read a proclamation issued by the Commission identifying Nov. 13, 2011 as Buck O’Neil Day in Sarasota. Roy McBean, a longtime friend of O’Neil and the namesake of the McBean Boys and Girls Club, will be present for the event.
The club will also unveil a series of three O’Neil illustrated baseball cards, created by artist Gary Cieradkowski, that have been hung in the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex cafeteria and on the observation tower between the playing fields. Cieradkowski is an avid baseball fan who started a project to honor Negro Leagues players, who never had baseball cards of their own, with illustrated baseball cards featuring the player’s likeness and a narrative of his career.
A plaque honoring O’Neil will also be unveiled and hung at the main entrance to the administrative building at the complex.