Morrell to sit in Buck O’Neil seat

Jack Morrell is as giddy as a school boy right now. He can’t wait until Saturday.
Morrell, an Iola Middle School teacher and former coach and longtime softball umpire, received news recently that he really couldn’t believe. Morrell was nominated to sit in the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat at a Kansas City Royals’ game.
“When they told me I had been nominated and would be a guest at a game, I looked up what the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat was all about. There are a lot of great people who’ve won the honor,” Morrell told the Register.
Buck O’Neil was a former Negro Baseball League player and coach. He helped establish the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo. O’Neil spent days and nights supporting the Royals from the same seat behind home plate at Kauffman Stadium, both as a scout and a fan.
To honor O’Neil, the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat contest fills “Buck’s Seat” for every home game with a member of the community who, on a large or small scale, embodies an aspect of O’Neil’s spirit.
The program is in its third year to honor the late O’Neil’s impact and to honor those who are vital to communities.
So Saturday when the Royals play the Minnesota Twins, Iola’s Jack Morrell will be in “Buck’s Seat” behind home plate. Watch the telecast because he will be shown.
“They won’t tell me who nominated me. I feel so humble and honored to have this opportunity,” Morrell said.
Morrell said there will be a ceremony before the game. “I may even get to meet the umpiring crew for the game, which would be tremendous for me.”
Morrell received the Dale Wilson Umpire Award in March at the Kansas ASA state rules meeting. The Dale Wilson award is for outstanding service, character and contribution to the sport of softball as an umpire.
Morrell has been a teacher at Iola Middle School since 1976. He coached eighth-grade basketball for 31 seasons, eighth-grade football for 18 seasons and is in his 33rd year an assistant track coach at IMS.
Morrell became a registered ASA umpire in 1977 after moving to Iola. He has worked as an umpire from the Iola recreation league level through the ASA state fast-pitch tournaments. He umpires high school softball games, including regional tournaments. Morrell also is a registered basketball referee.
He has helped organize and manage the Iola Men’s Slow-Pitch Softball League, 1979-1986 and since 1996. Morrell was instrumental in starting the T-ball program in Iola.
Morrell serves on the Iola Recreation Advisory Council.