Former Professor and Son Pen Baseball Book for Truman Press

As a new baseball season is set to begin, the Truman State University Press publication about Negro League great Buck O’Neil is now on sale.

O’Neil, who started his baseball career in the 1930s before the integration of baseball, played first base and served as coach for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues. In 1962, he became the first African-American coach in Major League Baseball. He later helped establish the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.

Published in 2016, and part of the Notable Missourian’s Series, the book was co-authored by Jeff Gall, professor emeritus of history and social science, and his son Micah Gall, a 2008 Truman alumnus.

“We are passionate Kansas City baseball fans, and Buck, of course, is a Kansas City baseball legend,” Jeff said. “He inspired so many people, and we thought the lessons of his life would be great for young people across Missouri.”

Notable Missourians is a nonfiction book series for readers in grades three to six about people who contributed to Missouri’s history or culture and who were born or lived in Missouri. Topics represent significant time periods or trends in Missouri history and introduce students to stories of lesser-known historic figures. Each full-color 48-page book is vividly illustrated with artistic drawings and historical pictures to bring the text to life and filled with details designed to be a valuable resource for students at the appropriate age level.

Jeff was on the steering committee for the series, and after suggesting O’Neil as a possible subject, he was asked to write the book.

“I said OK, as long as Micah could be my co-author,” Jeff said. “Buck has always been one of Micah’s life heroes. I knew he would be the ideal collaborator.”

Micah, who serves as the chair of the English Department at Westminster Christian Academy in Chesterfield, Mo., grew up idolizing O’Neil. As a child attending Royals games at Kauffman Stadium, he would see O’Neil sitting behind home plate.

“My father would often encourage my sister and me to go say hello in-between innings, and Buck always greeted us with a gracious smile,” Micah said.

Those encounters clearly made an impression on Micah, whose two-year-old son bears the middle name O’Neil.

After agreeing to write the book, father and son immersed themselves into researching their subject. Jeff explored O’Neil’s early life while Micah looked into his later years.

“To tell the truth, we both had been reading about Buck for many years, so we really felt like we knew our subject well,” Jeff said. “We also traveled to Kansas City to meet with the people at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to get their thoughts and support.”

For a father and son who share a love of baseball, this collaborative project is something they both cherish.

“It was a joy to work with my father on this project,” Micah said. “To have an opportunity to work together on something we’re both passionate about was something we couldn’t pass up. I was honored that my father asked me to help. It was also an honor to have an opportunity to help tell Buck O’Neil’s story to a young audience.”

The working relationship between Micah and Jeff did not end with the book’s publication. Jeff retired from Truman in May 2016, and he now teaches at Westminster Christian Academy with Micah.

“It is a real thrill,” Jeff said. “We are colleagues and even car pool together. I could not be more pleased.”

“Buck O’Neil: Baseball’s Ambassador,” is currently on sale for $18.90. It can be purchased online at

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