One of my all-time favorite ambassadors of the game from yesteryear is the great Buck O'Neill. I had a chance to hear him talk once shortly after college. Seemed like a really cool guy with a good story, so I picked up a copy of one of his autographs.
2001 Fleer Greats of the Game Buck O'Neill Autograph
The bulk of O'Neill's playing career was spent playing for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues. While the stats were a little bit iffy, Buck was a great hitter and is believed to have had a batting average in the high .300s. Buck O'Neill also managed the Monarchs during the downfall of the Negro Leagues and was able to successfully lead the team to a few championships. Apparently there were some disputes with the titles. You can research the disputes yourself, but basically think college football with baseball teams.
O'Neill went on to work with the Chicago Cubs as a scout and was able to sign Lou Brock to a contract and was also involved in helping the team land Ernie Banks. Some places claim he signed Banks, while others just say he knew Banks from his time as a manager and was an influence in getting him to sign with the Cubs. His most prominent and visible roles came later in life when he starred in Ken Burns documentary Baseball.
Buck O'Neill was also key in setting up the Negro League Hall of Fame in Kansas City. While I have not had a chance to visit yet, it is definitely on my to do list and is a two hour drive from my parents house. Through his work at the museum O'Neill still had plenty of interaction with former players and modern players too. Ichiro was apparently a big fan and huge admirer of Buck and would always make time to talk baseball with him when the Mariners made trips into Kansas City.
I encourage you to take a little bit of time to search the internet and check out some of the great sound bits, video clips, and articles about this baseball Hall of Famer. Buck always had plenty to share and plenty to say. Well worth your time. If you like what you hear and enjoy Buck O'Neill be sure to check out some of his autographs. He signed a few things in the late 90s, which can be pricey at times, but a good piece of history for your collection.