CRIME Is Just Like A Baseball Game
By Gary Norris Gray
OAKLAND (BASN/BASN NEWSROOM): Major League Baseball continues to fight with itself in promoting the game. MLB promotes its 25-year Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities (RBI) Program. One has to ask is this enough to attract young African Americans to this sport which claims to be inclusive but with each passing year, it seems to be a sport of exclusion.
The current influx of Latin and Asian players seems to be at the expense of the African American baseball player. Currently, there are over twenty baseball programs overseas in Latin America, the Caribbean Islands, and on the Asian continent, while the inner city baseball programs in the United States pale in comparison with providing similar opportunities or incentives for African American youth through said program.
Currently, there are over twenty baseball programs overseas in Latin America, the Caribbean Islands, and on the Asian continent, while there are far fewer inner city baseball programs in the United States. There are other issues such as colleges and universities offering limited numbers of scholarships and lack of minority mentors. Currently, there are 89 African-American players on the field. That is only 9 % of all players, a drop from 10.2 % just two years ago. In the 1970s, blacks made up as much of 32% of MLB players.
There are three major events, or, in baseball terms, three strikes, pertaining to African Americans and the sport of baseball
NO MENTION OF ALL – STAR TONY GWYNN?
At the All-Star Game on July 15, 2014, the sport did not even mention the last player to flirt with a .400 average, a player that remained with one team, one organization his whole career, a player that loved to teach others about the game.
The multiple time All-Star outfielder San Diego Padre Tony Gwynn. He passed away a few weeks ago due to the complications of cancer. Major League Baseball should have mentioned Tony Gwynn at the beginning, middle, or end of this year’s All-Star Game. For African Americans who love this game, it was the 3rd strike, the last strike, a final blow.
This is the explanation of the omission by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports Network:
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, an extraordinary individual whose memory we have honored in numerous ways in recent weeks. The Baseball family has sadly lost a number of people this year – including Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, Frank Cashen, and former All-Stars Jerry Coleman, Jim Fregosi, and Don Zimmer – and did not want to slight anyone by singling out one individual.”
Baseball could have taken a moment of silence to honor ALL of these players, with a mention of their names and photos on the jumbotron. But instead the silence was deafening when there was no mention of these players generally and Tony Gwynn specifically, who had died just a few weeks before the game.
CALLING THE STRIKES
The first strike happened some forty-five years ago as the St. Louis Cardinal outfielder Curt Flood challenged baseball’s reserve clause-free agency laws and won. Flood got traded from the back to back National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals to the last place Philadelphia Phillies. It was the last Championship before they divided into the Eastern and Western Divisions.
Flood did not want to play for the Phillies because of the lingering reputation of the racist fan base in South Philadelphia and the old dilapidated Connie Mack Stadium. The Phillies would move to the new cookie cutter monster Veterans Stadium a year later.
Mr. Flood stated that (we) players are not cattle to be shuttled off to any city that owners wished without that player’s consent. Curt Flood’s political, social, and economic position created the modern day athlete and he still does not receive the praises for the sacrifices he made. Every player should give thanks to Curt Flood.
Mr. Curt Flood should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame; but because of his legal battle and victory with the sport, the entrance has been denied to the All-Star outfielder. Young African Americans have taken notice.
The St. Louis Cardinal organization added insult to injury when they hosted the All Star Game in 2009 with all of the living and past Cardinals players being honored before the game. Curt Flood was not mentioned.
Then the second strike, the denial of one of baseball’s living legions into the Hall of Fame. Mr. Buck O’Neil who played in the Negro Leagues with the Kansas City Monarchs and MLB’s Chicago Cubs. The Hall of Fame waited until O’Neil passed away before recognizing him as the ambassador to baseball just as Gwynn. A living O’Neil would have been a goldmine for the sport and a spokesman to gain the confidence of young African American fans but they booted the ball. “ERROR”
SEEING THE FACE OF BASEBALL
Baseball has struck out in the Black communities of America. Young African American men are watching. Young Blacks want no part of MLB hypocrisies. The blackballing and distancing themselves from the new home run king and All-Star outfielder Barry Lamar Bonds. Who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates-San Francisco Giants. This action cemented the growing negative feelings by young black followers of the game. They see the harsh treatment of Black players on the field. They don’t see players that look like them on the field.
These young Black warriors can see that Ken Caminiti, Mark McGwire, Andy Petitte, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemons, Ryan Braun, and the list is endless do not receive the same punishment as African American players for the same crime.
The sport continues to promote star players of “A Whiter Shade of Pale” like Los Angeles Angels outfielders Mike Trout, and Josh Hamilton. The Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and pitcher Stephan Strasburg, Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies, and last New York Met third baseman David Wright.
The list above are all great players but what happen to African American players like outfielder Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers, outfielder Coco Crisp of the Oakland A’s, Pittsburgh Pirate outfielder Andrew McCutchen, First basemen, Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers, pitchers C.C. Sabathia of the New York Yankees or David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays, or New York Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson. What about young gun outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Boston Red Sox? These outstanding players will never be the face of baseball.
Major League Baseball stumbles and bumbles its way each year with the African American communities. Here’s some advice for the troubling sport. Dusty Baker manager of the Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants and the Cincinnati Reds guided all three teams into the playoffs. How many managers have done that?
Cito Gaston, the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, won back to back World Series Championships, How many managers have done that?
These two great Black managers should be an example of leadership and would be one of the keys to attracting the young African American fan. It will not happen and THAT’S BASEBALL BEING BASEBALL
Progress is being made with a new chance for young African Americans. In 2014 the Cincinnati Reds opened the first Urban Youth Academy baseball training facility that is designed to develop baseball fundamental and skills.
Brooklyn Dodgers Jackie Robinson would repeat the statement that we have to try harder to reach out to our African American youth so they too can enjoy the game America calls its past time.
For many African American baseball fans, it might be too late THREE STRIKES and YOU’RE OUT!!!!!
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE: – The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod