Buck O'Neil

Buck O’Neil walks to the field as he is introduced before a minor league all-star game Tuesday, July 18, 2006 in Kansas City, Kan. — AP Photo/Charlie Riede

Seven Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues legends and three American League standouts are on the Early Baseball Era ballot for consideration for election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The 10-person ballot recently announced by the Hall of Fame features candidates whose primary contributions to the game came before 1950.

The ballot includes Buck O’Neil, John Donaldson, Bud Fowler, Bill Dahlen, Vic Harris, Grant “Home Run” Johnson, Lefty O’Doul, Dick “Cannonball” Redding, Allie Reynolds and George “Tubby” Scales. All of these candidates are deceased. Nevertheless, they deserved the recognition.

Buck O’Neil was an absolute legend. He played 10 seasons with the Memphis Red Sox and Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League and was named to three all-star games. Following his playing career, O’Neil became a scout for the Chicago Cubs and later became the first Black coach in American League or National League history with Chicago. Scouting for teams for much of the rest of his career. O’Neil became a beloved ambassador for the game who helped found the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.

John Donaldson pitched in the Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues for more than 30 years, earning a reputation as one of the best pitchers in the game. Also playing the outfield and managing, Donaldson helped establish the barnstorming business model that was profitable for Black teams for decades.

Bud Fowler is often acknowledged as the first Black professional baseball player, having pitched and played second base for teams in more than a dozen leagues throughout his career. After spending part of his youth in Cooperstown, Fowler grew up to excel on the diamond and later helped form the successful Page Fence Giants barnstorming team.

Vic Harris played 18 seasons in the Negro Leagues, primarily as a left fielder for the legendary Homestead Grays. He compiled a .305 career batting average and was known as one of the most aggressive base runners in the Negro National League. Harris also managed the Grays for 11 seasons, winning seven Negro National League pennants and the 1948 World Series.

Bill Dahlen spent 21 seasons in the majors from 1891-1911, playing almost 90 percent of his games at shortstop, compiling a .272 batting average with 84 home runs and 1,234 RBI. He scored 100 or more runs in each of his first six seasons and recorded 120-or-more hits 15 times. He retired in 1911 as the active home run leader with 84 and as the all-time leader in games played (2,444).

Grant “Home Run” Johnson was a shortstop and second baseman in the pre-Negro Leagues era who helped form the Page Fence Giants barnstorming team. A powerful hitter and occasional pitcher, Johnson played for the early powerhouse teams like the Brooklyn Royal Giants and New York Lincoln Giants.

Lefty O’Doul played for 11 seasons with the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, Phillies and Dodgers, winning two National League batting titles. He compiled a .349 career batting average, fourth-best in AL/NL history.

Dick “Cannonball” Redding was regarded as perhaps the fastest pitcher in Negro Leagues history, throwing for teams such as the Lincoln Giants, Chicago American Giants and the Brooklyn Royal Giants. Credited with multiple non-hitters, he was also a successful manager with the Royal Giants.

Allie Reynolds was 182-107 over 13 years with the Indians and Yankees, with six All-Star team selections. He led his teams to six World Series titles, going 7-2 with a 2.79 ERA. He twice finished in the top three of the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award voting.

Any candidate who receives votes on 75 percent of the ballots cast by either 16-member committee will earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 24, 2022, along with any electees who emerge from the 2022 Baseball Writers’ Association of America election, to be announced on Jan. 25, 2022.

The results of the Early Baseball Era Committee vote will be announced live on MLB Network’s “MLB Tonight” at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 5.

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