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Kansas baseball releases new uniforms honoring the historic Kansas City Monarchs for the Buck O'Neil Classic on April 19. 

Last month, Kansas baseball announced the inception of the Buck O’Neil Classic, with the inaugural game being April 19 at Legends Field, home of the Kansas City Monarchs. 

As the Jayhawks travel to Kansas City, Kansas, to take on the Texas Southern Tigers, the team looks forward to honoring the classic’s namesake, Buck O’Neil. 

O’Neil was a central figure to the Kansas City baseball scene in the late 1930s and 40s as both a player and coach to the Negro League’s Monarchs. Playing first base for the team during his tenure, O’Neil became a three-time All-Star thanks to his historic defense, and helped lead the club to a Negro World Series championship in 1942.

As his play started to slow, O’Neil stepped into a player-manager role with the Monarchs in 1948, leading the club to two pennants before the franchise was sold in 1955. O’Neil joined the Chicago Cubs the following year as a scout, famously scouting several players that would go on to make their marks on the game, including Hall of Famer Lou Brock. 

In the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, new ground was being broken across all different mediums in the United States, especially within the world of sports. In 1962, O’Neil ensured his name wouldn’t be forgotten in the history books as the Cubs named him the first Black coach in Major League Baseball. 

But even after his retirement, his impact on the game of baseball didn’t stop at what he did on the field. O’Neil spent the rest of his life as an advocate for the sport, namely in the preservation of the history of the Negro Leagues and the establishment of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Sixteen years after O’Neil’s passing, his story continues to be told across the world of baseball. This past December, O’Neil was posthumously elected into the Hall of Fame, and Kansas baseball’s new classic is another testimony to the impact he made on the sport. 

In retro fashion, the Jayhawks will break out a new look as they take the diamond on Tuesday, featuring a new uniform styled after the historic Monarch uniforms that O’Neil spent much of his career wearing. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.