By DOUG TUCKER
AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Buck O'Neil, the goodwill ambassador for the Negro Leagues who fell one vote shy of the Hall of Fame, died Friday night. He was 94.
Bob Kendrick, marketing director for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, said O'Neil died at a Kansas City hospital.
A star in the Negro Leagues who barnstormed with Satchel Paige, O'Neil later became the first black coach in the majors. Baseball was his life -- in July, he batted in a minor league All-Star game.
O'Neil had appeared strong until early August, when he was hospitalized for what was described as "fatigue." He was released a few days later, but readmitted on Sept. 17. Friends said that he had lost his voice along with his strength. No cause of death was immediately given.
Always projecting warmth, wit and a sunny optimism that sometimes seemed surprising for a man who lived in a climate of racial injustice for so long, O'Neil remained remarkably vigorous well into his 90s. He became as big a star as the Negro League greats whose stories he traveled the country to tell.
He would be in New York taping the "Late Show With David Letterman" one day, then back home on the golf course the next day shooting his age, a feat he first accomplished at 75.
Negro Leagues Baseball
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