John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil (November 13, 1911 – October 6, 2006) was an American first baseman and manager in Negro league baseball, most notably in the Negro American League with the Kansas City Monarchs. After his playing days, he became the first African American coach in Major League Baseball, and also worked as a scout. In his later years he became a popular and renowned speaker and interview subject, helping to renew widespread interest in the Negro leagues, and played a major role in establishing the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri
Born in rural Carrabelle, Florida, O'Neil was initially denied the opportunity to attend high school due to racial segregation; at the time, Florida had only four high schools specifically for African Americans. However, after working a summer in a celery field with his father, O'Neil left home to live with relatives and attend Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, where he completed high school and two years of college courses. He left Florida in 1934 for several years of semi-professional "barnstorming" experiences (playing interracial exhibition games), where one of his teammates was the legendary Satchel Paige. The effort paid off, and in 1937, O'Neil signed with the Memphis Red Sox for their first year of play in the newly-formed Negro American League. His contract was sold to the Monarchs the following year.
O'Neil had a career batting average of .288, including four .300-plus seasons at the plate. In 1946 the first baseman led the league in hitting with a .353 average and followed that in 1947 with a career-best .358 mark. He also posted averages of .345 in 1940 and .330 in 1949. He played in four East-West All-Star games and two Negro League World Series.
A World War II tour in the U.S. Navy from 1943–1945 briefly interrupted his playing career.
In 1948, one year after Jackie Robinson broke the major leagues' color line, O'Neil took over as player/manager of the Monarchs and guided them to two league titles in 1953 and 1955.