⚾ Buck O’Neil Classic Moving to Lawrence; Jayhawks to Still Play at Legends Field

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The third annual Buck O’Neil Classic is set to return this year, with the venue changing to Hoglund Ballpark this season. The game will be played on April 9 against Nebraska at 6 p.m. CT. Kansas will also continue its partnership with the Kansas City Monarchs of the American Association and play at Legends Field on May 7 against Omaha at 6 p.m. CT.

“We are excited to be hosting this year’s Buck O’Neil Classic in Lawrence,” Head Coach Dan Fitzgerald said. “We are honored to be a small piece of celebrating Buck’s life, legacy, and incredible impact. It’s going to be a great night.”

This year’s Buck O’Neil Classic will celebrate the first night game the Kansas City Monarchs ever played, which came in early March 1930 in Lawrence.

Buck O’Neil was a first baseman and played a majority of his career for the Kansas City Monarchs. He later would be a player-manager for the Monarchs. Upon the conclusion of his time in the Negro Leagues in 1955, O’Neil was hired by the Chicago Cubs as a scout. In 1962, the Cubs promoted O’Neil to their major league coaching staff, making him the first African American coach in Major League Baseball history. O’Neil, who died in 2006, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in July 2022 for his contributions to the game as a player, scout and manager.

“Buck O’Neil was one of baseball’s greatest ambassadors,” Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick said. “He promoted the game and its rich history tirelessly and I know he would be deeply honored to know these student-athletes are remembering him and celebrating the winning spirit of the great Kansas City Monarchs.”

O’Neil helped establish the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM). After starting the NLBM in a tiny, one-room office in 1990, the NLBM moved into a 10,000-square-foot home in Kansas City in 1997. O’Neil’s idea was to build it into a museum, rather than a Hall of Fame, that would pay tribute to the Negro Leagues and their legendary players. O’Neil served as the chairman of the museum and helped the NLBM gain National Designation in 2006 after testifying before Congress on the museum’s importance.

Kansas is 2-0 in the annual Buck O’Neil Classic, with both games being played against Texas Southern the previous two seasons. In 2023, Kansas slugged its way to an 8-5 victory that featured three home runs, including long balls from Chase Jans and Kodey Shojinaga. The season before Kansas won a 7-6 thriller that had the Jayhawks come from behind to win late in the game.

The Jayhawks are taking on the Cornhuskers for only the second time since Nebraska left the Big 12 in 2011. The last time the teams played was in 2016 at Kauffman Stadium in the College Baseball Hall of Fame Game. Kansas will also play at Nebraska on April 23.

For a third straight year, Kansas will play at Legends Field, the home of the Kansas City Monarchs. The game will take place on May 7 against Omaha at 6 p.m. CT.

“We are all very excited that Legends Field and Kansas City, Kansas, will host the Kansas Jayhawks for a third consecutive year,” Kansas City Monarchs President and General Manager Jay Hinrichs said. “With a premier venue like Legends Field which hosts great events like the American Association Championship Series, 20 seasons of professional baseball and amazing concerts like Tacos and Tequilla, our venue is part of a safe, family friendly, active entertainment and sports destination.”

Kansas has an 11-3 advantage in the all-time series with Omaha. The Jayhawks will play at Omaha prior to the game at Legends Field on April 16.

Tickets for the Buck O’Neil Classic at Hoglund Ballpark can be purchased by clicking here. Tickets for the game at Legends Field will go on sale at a later date. Fans who purchased season tickets will receive admission to the game at Legends Field as part of their season ticket package.

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) is the world’s only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history of African American baseball and its impact on the social advancement of America. The privately funded, 501 c3, not-for-profit organization was established in 1990 and is in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri’s Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District. The NLBM operates two blocks from the Paseo YMCA where Andrew “Rube” Foster established the Negro National League in 1920. To learn more about the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, please visit nlbm.com.