Baseball Hall of Famer & Negro Leagues Legend Walter Fenner 'Buck' Leonard
Walter Fenner 'Buck' Leonard
Walter Fenner “Buck” Leonard is largely considered the greatest Negro Leagues 1st baseman of all-time. From 1934 to 1950, he captained the great Homestead Grays of the Negro National League to 10 league championships and 3 Negro Leagues World Series titles. He played in a record 12 All-Star games, earning a reputation as one of the game’s most feared hitters and greatest all-around stars. Though he never played in the Major Leagues, he has been considered one of the top 50 baseball players of all-time and was among the first 3 Negro Leaguers elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Leonard was born in Rocky Mount, NC in 1907, and grew up near the local ballpark. As a boy, he was once arrested for sneaking a peek at a segregated minor league baseball game. Without a high school for Black kids in the area, he went to work at 14, eventually putting brake cylinders on railroad cars. In the evenings and on weekends, he played semi-pro baseball. He lost his job during the depression in 1932 and left to pursue a career in professional baseball. Buck always maintained a home in Rocky Mount and when he returned home for good, he promptly earned his high school diploma. A true Renaissance Man, Buck held several jobs, including school district truant officer, physical education instructor and minor league baseball executive, before earning his real-estate broker license. He even built several homes that still stand in Rocky Mount today.
Mr. Leonard was a role model and leader throughout his life. His legacy of deep commitment to faith, family and community is carried on today through the efforts of the Buck Leonard Association.