Buck O'Neil was not only a superstar player who went to three All-Star Games in 10 Negro League seasons, but he also founded the Negro League Baseball Hall of Fame in Kansas City after his retirement. In 1962, he had the distinction of making baseball history by being the first Black coach and scout for the Chicago Cubs.
When O’Neil passed away in 2006 at the age of 94, the MLB posthumously established the Buck O'Neil Award which is given annually to the "individual whose extraordinary efforts enhanced baseball's positive impact on society, broadened the game's appeal, and whose character, integrity, and dignity are comparable to the qualities exhibited by Buck O'Neil." O’Neil was voted in by the Golden Days Era Committee which covers candidates whose contributions to the game came between 1951-1969.
Widely considered as the first Black professional baseball player, Bud Fowler played infield and pitched during the 1800s. He later helped to organize the Page Fence Giants, one of the most renowned Black baseball teams of the era, when the color barrier was first introduced in professional baseball. For the Giants, he was the player/manager. Fowler passed away in 1913 at the age of 54.
Along with O’Neil and Fowler, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso, and Tony Oliva will also be enshrined in Cooperstown, New York. Amazingly, Dick Allen, who is widely regarded as the best player never to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, fell one vote short again for the second time.
When it comes to voting on who makes it into the Hall of Fame, the Veterans Committee was replaced with four eras committees that meet every few years to vote on the newest inductees. In addition to the Early Baseball Era and Golden Days Era, there's also the Modern Baseball Era (1970-87) and Today's Game Era (1988 to present) Committees. The Baseball Writers of America organization casts votes for the Hall of Fame on an ongoing basis.
Next year's Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, July 24, 2022.