That one-of-a-kind person could be a parent(s) or spouse. Sometimes, it’s someone outside of conventional circles that one meets by happenstance. It’s usually unexpected as are the outcomes fueled by the person’s influence. That person could become a mentor or a friend, or both.
Or that person may not be in your inner circle at all but still exert deep and broad influence from afar. Those types of one-of-a-kinds usually impact more than just you. They inspire many.
Buck O’Neil was one-of-a-kind. Fifteen years after he passed, Buck was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday. Buck was a pretty good baseball player. He was the first African-American coach in the major leagues. He was a baseball scout. But none of those were the reasons he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Buck was inducted because of his humanity. His leadership. His influence.
He nearly single-handedly started a movement to get America and the world to recognize the thousands of African-American baseball players from the Negro Leagues that were not allowed to play Major League Baseball until Jackie Robinson broke the barrier in 1947. Some of them were as talented and produced prolific results as household names in those times like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, or in later times like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. But they toiled in relative obscurity. And now, because of Buck, they are hailed in the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Some of whom were already in only because of Buck, welcomed him to the Hall of Fame in heaven last night.
The world became acquainted with Buck from early 90s as he campaigned to first build the museum and then promote it. We got to know him while he raised the profile of the Negro Leagues. He had incredible zeal to help others. He revealed his humility and selflessness by always seeking to lift others up even while national media asked him to tell his own story. He was charismatic, a gifted story-teller and someone who made you smile just by his presence.
I’m glad the Baseball Hall of Fame decided to formally recognize that Buck was one-of-a-kind. May we all be blessed with a one-of-a-kind in our lives.