Buck O'Neil: Right On Time
2016 glazed ceramic bas-relief, brass lettering and found objects 31 x 24 Available for purchase. Please contact the artist.
A solid first baseman in his time, Oâ€™Neil is also regarded as much for his years as manager of the legendary Kansas City Monarchs. Oâ€™Neil would later record one of the most significant, and often overlooked, milestones in baseball history by becoming the first black major league coach in 1962 with the Chicago Cubs. For the many who have seen Ken Burnsâ€™s landmark documentary Baseball, Oâ€™Neil gave viewers a poignant entree into the Negro Leagues through his candid interviews. Until his death in 2007, Buck Oâ€™Neil spent his retirement as a patriarch of the historic Negro Leagues and a great ambassador to baseball in general.
This ceramic portrait is encased with a collection of found and altered objects symbolic of the Negro Leagues and black American culture. The frame is part of a vintage piano, giving a musical nod to the jazz and blues era synonymous with this time. The clock and quote serve both as a verbal and visual entendre for the black vernacular expression, â€śRight On!â€ť and also for one of Oâ€™Neilâ€™s famous quotes about whether he was born too early for the integration of baseball to which he responded, â€śI was born right on time.â€ť The vintage photo of field workers references Oâ€™Neilâ€™s often repeated remark about how baseball at the very least got him out of the celery fields and onto the diamond.
All of the woodwork in the piece is mahogany: a dark, exotic, tropical wood whose importation has reached to exploitative levels in its countries of origin.