The Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, in partnership with the SAM Shortline Excursion Train, invites you to a day filled with history, determination, and dreams fulfilled. Please join us in welcoming two outstanding individuals on a ride with the SAM Shortline to the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site on November 12, 2011.
Dick "Lefty" O'Neal dreamed of becoming a Major League baseball player all his life.Even though he didn't get there he had the chance to play in the Negro Bush Leagues and has the distinction of being the only white ballplayer to play for two professional Negro League teams. Since his retirement as a United States Air Force Officer, serving for more than twenty years, he has functioned in several capacities. He is an adjunct professor in the speech communication field at San Antonio College, part-time corporate training consultant, motivational speaker, member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes executive board of San Antonio, Texas and vice president of the South Texas Professional Baseball Negro League Players' Association. He has also filled the role as an Associate Professional Baseball Scout in Texas, most recently with the Atlanta Braves.
Roosevelt Jackson was born in Gay, Georgia in December of 1917 and played, managed and scouted for several Negro League baseball teams. Currently he lives in Buena Vista, GA, and is one of the oldest living Negro League players. He was recognized by the Committee for the Center for Negro League Baseball Research in Birmingham, Alabama, in a ceremony hosted by The Museum of Negro League Baseball and The Southern League for his contribution to Negro League baseball.
The train will depart from Veterans State Park outside of Cordele, GA at 9:30am. Passengers will enjoy a smooth ride through the countryside of southwest Georgia (arriving in Plains, Georgia) and be able to meet Mr. O'Neal and Mr. Jackson. The program at Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, Georgia will start at 1:00 pm and Mr. O'Neal will be the keynote speaker and sign his book, "Dreaming of the Majors; Living In the Bush."His book was placed in the baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, New York in April of 2009.Having these two ballplayers on November 12, 2011 in the hometown of the 39th President of the United States, who by the way played baseball for the Plains High School Buffalos, will prove to be an historic event. For reservations call 877-427-2457 or visit the SAM Shortlineonline.
Back in the 80s I was stationed at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Alabama. We lived in Prattville, Alabama. I met a young kid entering High School by the name of Kevin Turner. He wanted me to teach him how to pitch so I did. I saw in him a gentle spirit. In fact once he saw that I was leading a monthly Adult Chapter of The Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Prattville, he asked if he could attend. A young man well before his time. You see at that time FCA wasn't encouraged at High School by the head coach so this was his only alternative. So he started coming and later on brought others with him. After a year of football he asked if I would also teach him how to punt since the team didn't have anyone to do those chores. I agreed and off to the football field for punting lessons. I could see in his Junior year that football was his sport so I just supported him in whatever he wanted. I arranged so he and a few athletes from Prattville could go to a summer leadership FCA camp and he was even more excited with life after that experience.
I got to see him become a leader on that team and I got to see him play in Prattville's first state championship game at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. His first punt went over 50 yards and he and I met at the 50 yard line and hugged each other. What a special moment.
I went on to my next assignment and tried to keep up with Kevin. He went on to The University of Alabama as a running back for 4 years and then on the the NFL for the New England Patriots, and the Philadelphia Eagles. He was a great player but I was even more proud of him as an FCA huddle leader at every stop.
Now the hard part. I found out from some close friends of mine in Prattville that Kevin has Lou Geherig's disease. I finally had a long talk with Kevin this year and we had a great talk about our faith and that HE will see us both through this period in his life.
I want you to check out his web site at Kevinturnerfoundation.org. Let him tell you his story. After he talks listen to the beautiful song Ty Herndon wrote and performed in honor of Kevin called "Journey On". Obviously Kevin influenced Ty's life too. The words also speak to my book. More importantly contribute anyway you can to his fight for his life.
The Lord works in mysterious ways. He brought us back together when we needed each other the most. You never know who you will meet on your life's journey but this is another reason to help people when they ask!! He is mentioned in my book!
God Bless you Kevin Turner!!!
Tune into By the Book interview with Dorothy Spalding at WatchmenBroadcasting at 7:30 PM CST on 2 July, and 3:30 AM EST on Monday 4 July. Just click on webcast and check it out!!!
Dick "Lefty" O'Neal is truly a man who loves God. I tried to recruit him in 1967 to punt for me but it didn't work out. In 1975 he came to the U of A for graduate school and it was great to have him with us. He workerd with our kickers in '75 and '76. When we had time together we would talk about football but most of our conversations were about our life in sports and sharing how the Lord had been working in our lives. When Dick's book came out in 2009 he gave me a copy. It is a rich and valuable read for anyone who has a great life dream, and more importantly, how to deal with life when that dream doesn't come true. His personal sports witness to his Lord is truly a spiritual breakthrough insight. One of my former coaches, Merv Johnson, said it best. "Wherever Lefty O'Neal went he planted seeds of the Lord and changed lives as he lived out his own" I fully endorse his book; Dreaming of the Majors; Living in the Bush. He touches some great themes in America's historical culture. I think the book should be in the school systems across America. God bless you Dick, from your old head coach and Christian brother."
Head Football Coach (1958-1976)
Director of Athletics (1974-2007)
University of Arkansas
Major League Baseball has begun running a feature of my life in the Negro Leagues as a part of Black History Month. The article is on the front page at milb.com. It started yesturday and will run indefinitely. I have been praying that this article would make it's way to the Major League Level and my prayers have been answered. Maybe those years we continued to play Negro League Baseball into the 60s-80s won't go un-noticed.
Since February the article is now on the same website but under news archives. Look for 2/10/11 article entitled "Lefty crosses the line in reverse". And tell others about the feature!
ENUMCLAW, WA, November, 30, 2010 — “My parents taught me that there are no color issues in the eye of the Lord, so I didn’t have a problem trying out [for the team].”
It was 1972. Baseball nut Dick “Lefty” O’Neal, who had just enlisted in the Air Force, learned that his salary was so small that he and his bride qualified for food stamps. “I heard that the Negro League was looking for a left-handed pitcher,” he says. “I tried out because I would get paid to play, and those funds would put food on the table.”
As O’Neal relates in his book, Dreaming of the Majors-Living in the Bush, he also hoped the opportunity would open doors for him to fulfill his lifelong dream to play major league baseball. But God had other plans for him, including a chance to cross the racial “color line” of the 1970s.
Three baseball players from the past visited Goodfellow Air Force Base Saturday. Everett Turner, Joseph "Lefty" Vaughn and Dick "Lefty" O'Neal all played baseball at various times in America's past. Though none of them ever made it to the Major Leagues, they each were part of something much bigger. Through persistence and love of the game, these men overcame adversity while playing for teams of the Negro League during the 1950s, '60s and '70s.
Last 5 tweets from leftyoneal:
People talking about '@leftyoneal':