ESPN baseball analyst Rick Sutcliffe on what winning the award for his support of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum means to him:
When I hear the name Buck O’Neil, it puts such a smile on my face. The award is more humbling than anything that’s ever happened in my career.
The reason I say that is because in 1979, I won the Jackie Robinson Award for Rookie of the Year, but I never met Jackie. In 1984, I won the Cy Young Award, but I’m way too young to have ever seen Cy Young pitch. Both of those awards meant a lot to me. In 1987, when I won the Roberto Clemente award, I didn’t think anything would ever come close to what that stands for and what that’s about. But I never saw Clemente play – not in person.
I knew Buck O’Neil well. At one point, Buck said I was like a son to him. We both had Kansas City near and dear to our hearts. They didn’t allow many people to see him during his last few hours, but I was holding his hand at his bedside right before he passed away.
I never like to say anything means more to me than anything else but there’s a separation for this award to me, unlike anything else. I’m truly speechless about something like this, an award that represents what Buck O’Neil was all about.
Kristen Hudak contributed to this post.