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The Guiding Light
Steve Wulf
September 19, 1994
Buck O'Neil bears witness to the glory and not just the shame of the Negro leagues
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September 19, 1994

The Guiding Light

Buck O'Neil bears witness to the glory and not just the shame of the Negro leagues

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" 'What's that, Satchel?"

" 'Seems like I been here before."

"I said, 'Me, too.' "

At the breakfast at 18th and Vine, someone in the audience asks the question everybody wants O'Neil to be asked: "Why did Satchel call you Nancy?" O'Neil smiles the wav he must have smiled at a hanging curveball in 1946.

"We were playing near an Indian reservation in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on our way to Chicago to play the Chicago American Giants." he says. "Satchel met a beautiful Indian maiden named Nancy, and he asked her if she'd like to visit him in Chicago, and she said sure, so Satchel gave her the name of our hotel. Well, now we're in Chicago, and I'm sitting in the coffee shop of the hotel when I see a cab pull up, and out steps Nancy. I greet her and tell her that Satchel is upstairs, and the bellhop carries her bags to his room.

"A few minutes pass, and another cab pulls up, and out steps Satchel's fiancée, Lahoma. I jump up and say. 'Lahoma, so good to see you. Satchel's not here right now, but he should be along shortly. Why don't you sit here with me, and I'll have the bellman take your bags up.' I go over to the bellman, explain the situation to him and tell him to move Nancy's bags into the room next to mine, which is next door to Satchel's. A few minutes later he comes down and gives me the sign that everything is O.K. In the meantime, Satchel has climbed down the fire escape, and lo and behold, here he comes walking down the street. I say, "Look, Lahoma, here's old Satch now,' and Satchel gives her a big greeting and takes her upstairs.

"That should've ended the trouble, but when we were turning in that night I heard Satchel's door open and close. Then I heard him knock on Nancy's door. I know he wanted to give her some money and apologize. But while he's whispering kind of loud, 'Nancy! Nancy!' I hear his door open again, and I knew it was Lahoma coming out to see what was going on. I jumped out of bed, opened my door and said, 'Yeah, Satch. What do you want?' And he said, 'Oh, Nancy. There you are. I was looking for you.'

"And from that day on, Satchel called me Nancy."

CAP

"Hello, Cap," says the former first base coach for the Monarchs.

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