Buck Leonard First Baseman’s Hall of Fame Inaugural Inductees Announced.
Induction Ceremony and Gala on October 29th at Imperial Centre.
September 16, 2022 – Rocky Mount, N.C.
On September 8th, more than two dozen dignitaries, press, and special guests were on hand at the Historic Buck Leonard home to hear Mayor Sandy Roberson’s “Buck Leonard Day” proclamation, as well as statements from City Councilman TJ Walker and interim City Manager Peter Varney, who recalled the first time he met Buck.
The Buck Leonard Day program was hosted by Buck Leonard Association Board Chair, Natarlin Best, Attorney at Law, who called it “a pleasure to serve an organization that prioritizes the education and well-being of our inner-city youth,” and as she introduced CEO Rose Hunter, “one that is led by someone with an attainable vision for our Beloved Community.”
In statements from both Hunter and Walker, we were reminded of the rich history just blocks away from Buck’s front steps. From old Booker T. Washington HS, where we heard King’s dream; to old Talbert Park where the Homestead Grays played; and the Mitchell House – former Greenbook lodging home, where the likes of the Harlem Globetrotters stayed, now future home of the Buck Leonard Community Resource Center.
The program was closed by COO Brian Patterson, who announced the names of the first 7 men who will be inducted into the Buck Leonard First Baseman’s Hall of Fame at the Buck Leonard Association annual Gala on October 29th at the Imperial Centre for the Arts & Sciences.
The Buck Leonard First Base Hall of Fame was created as a feature of significance for Rocky Mount, that recognizes and celebrates positive role models for the residents and visitors of our community. It has been established by the Buck Leonard Association for Sports & Human Enrichment in 2022, to coincide with the 50-year anniversary of Mr. Leonard’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
For consideration, nominees must have had careers of marked accomplishment in baseball, business, and/or community service, while consistently modeling qualities of, integrity, leadership, determination, and perseverance. As ballplayers, nominees must have played a notable portion of their careers at the position of 1st base.
With goals for diversity and the representation of success on and off the ballfield, the nomination and selection processes give special consideration for: Former Negro Leaguers, former Rocky Mount minor Leaguers, fellow North Carolinians, and all historically underrepresented peoples. Participants from all-levels of diamond sports are considered.
The inaugural class as officially announced September 8, 2022: Martín Dihigo, Lou Gehrig, Hank Greenberg, Buck O’Neil, Tony Perez, Joe Staton & Ben Taylor
• Martín Dihigo – is widely considered the be one of the greatest two-way players in baseball history, along with Babe Ruth and Shohei Ohtani. The Matanzas native was the first man to be a member of the Hall of Fame, Salon de la Fama (Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame), and Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame. Dihigo played every position during his career, which ran from 1922 to 1950. A top hurler who won over 250 wins as a pro, he also won two batting titles. 1st base was his second-most played position behind shortstop. Dihigo was the teammate and coach of Buck Leonard on multiple occasions in Mexico.