John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil had a great career as a standout first baseman, then manager with the Negro Leagues' Kansas City Monarchs in the late 1930s through the mid 1950s.
After his former Negro League team was sold, he was hired by the Cubs as a scout, having a hand in discovering Billy Williams and signing Lou Brock among others. O'Neil served as an unofficial coach for a while until 50 years ago today, the Cubs officially hired him as the first African-American coach in Major League Baseball history.
Unfortunately, he never got a chance to manage; he came right at the time the Cubs were experimenting with the ridiculous "College of Coaches," and O'Neil in his autobiography "I Was Right On Time" identifies then-Cubs executive Charlie Grimm as the one who made the call to exclude him from the rotation.
O'Neil eventually returned to the scouting ranks, and later became the star of Ken Burns' "Baseball" documentary, bringing the Negro Leagues back to life with his captivating description.
O'Neil was the chairman of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, and shortly before his death at age 94 in October 2006, became the oldest man to play a professional baseball game, drawing two intentional walks in the July 18, 2006 Northern League All-Star Game.
He was truly one of baseball's all-time great ambassadors.
A report via Sporting News writer Sean Deveney surfaced early on Tuesday morning, stating that the Bulls possibly have interest in free agent big man Jahlil Okafor.
According to sources, Okafor, the No. 3 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, worked out for four teams last Wednesday in Las Vegas, and remains hopeful of signing with a team ahead of training camp next fall.
The Pacers were listed along with the Bulls as teams that could be looking at Okafor, though neither team was at his summer workouts in Las Vegas.
From a public relations standpoint, the Bulls could sell the idea of having a roster with multiple IHSA champions. It would be a feel-good story, with Okafor and Parker joining a young and developing core. But from an on-court perspective, the move makes little sense.
Chicago has a clogged frontcourt rotation that includes Lauri Markkanen, Bobby Portis, Robin Lopez, Cristiano Felicio and No. 7 overall pick Wendell Carter Jr. And while Parker is likely going to play the majority of his minutes on the wing, he will see time at the four and possibly five as well in spot minutes. Okafor has proven to be a capable low-post scorer and little else at this stage in his career.
Okafor has averaged 12.9 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game, but has only played 131 games over three seasons. He struggled to get minutes last year with the Sixers or the Brooklyn Nets (12.6 minutes per game in 2017-18). His continued poor defense and lack of rebounding prowess were the main reasons why.
He had a 59.3 true shooting percentage in his 26 games with the Nets, as well as 18.2 points per 36 minutes. But his defensive rating of 110 points given up per 100 possessions would do little to help a Bulls team that currently lacks established defensive centers sans Lopez. Even on a minimum contract, an Okafor signing would likely signal a forthcoming trade from the Bulls. In today’s NBA, Having four centers on your roster would be ridiculous, no matter how good the narrative is.
On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull spoke with Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber after an electric and entertaining Home Run Derby in Washington D.C.
Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here: