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Thursday PITCH n’ Bitch: The Ugly Sport Of Black Balling August 27, 2009

Film Still of Negro League Baseball 1946 (American Film Archives)

Film Still of Negro League Baseball 1946 (American Film Archives)

Several days ago, I wrote a post comparing politics to America’s greatest past time – baseball. Particular emphasis was placed upon “the rookie” players as being those in which we place great hope and expectations.  A story today in the Chicago Tribune about Cubs outfielder Milton Bradley and racism made me realize that I neglected to mention that of course we place high expectations on players that are seasoned as well.

Image of negro League baseball catcher Josh Gibson throwing mask into air. Gibson (1911-1947) played professionally for the Homestead Grays and was called the "Black Babe Ruth" (Carnegie Museum)

Image of negro League baseball catcher Josh Gibson throwing mask into air. Gibson (1911-1947) played professionally for the Homestead Grays and was called the "Black Babe Ruth" (Carnegie Museum)

The Chicago Tribune

Milton Bradley accuses some fans of racial taunts

But Chicago Cubs outfielder offers no examples of such abuse

By Paul Sullivan
August 27, 2009

An angry Milton Bradley lashed out at his treatment from Cubs fans Wednesday, suggesting he has been the victim of racial abuse at Wrigley Field.

But Bradley declined to give specifics, saying no one wanted to listen to him.

“America doesn’t believe in racism,” he said sarcastically before repeating the remark.

Speaking to beat writers in the Cubs clubhouse Wednesday before their 9-4 victory over the Nationals, Bradley was asked to clarify his comments from Tuesday night, when he said he faced “hatred” on a daily basis.

To what exactly was Bradley referring?

“I’m talking about hatred, period,” he said. “I’m talking about when I go to eat at a restaurant, I have to listen to the waiters bad-mouthing me at another table, sitting in a restaurant, that’s what I’m talking about — everything.”

Grays

In January, Milton Bradley signed a 3 year contract with the Cubs for $30 million dollars.  In Chicago, that comes with a lot of expectations. Baseball fans can be loyal, especially Cubs fans. Things can get a little nasty late in the season. Experiencing harassment from exasperated and intoxicated fans is not something that is endemic to being a baseball player of color. Every sports player experiences it on some level- even the great Babe Ruth.   Which brings me to the seasoned player. Back to politics.  Facing declining poll numbers New York governor David Peterson, an African American alluded to racism as the cause for his woes.

Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder James (“Cool Papa”) Bell and manager “Candy Jim” Taylor, at a Negro league game between the Chicago American Giants and New York Black Yankees, 1942. © Bettmann/Corbis

Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder James (“Cool Papa”) Bell and manager “Candy Jim” Taylor, at a Negro league game between the Chicago American Giants and New York Black Yankees, 1942. © Bettmann/Corbis

Fox News

Efforts to Rein in Gov. Paterson’s Racial Rants

August 25, 2009

By Bret Baier

Prominent African-Americans and officials in the administration of the first black president are trying to rein in what some are calling the racial rants of New York Democratic Governor David Paterson.

Friday in the New York Daily News, the governor blamed his political woes and those of Massachusetts counterpart, Deval Patrick, on race: “We’re not in the post-racial period. The reality is the next victim on the list — and you can see it coming — is President Barack Obama.”

The New York Post reports the White House was quick to send a private and pointed message to the governor to keep the president out of Paterson’s political problems. White House spokesman Bill Burton said publicly: “Whether or not race plays into [criticism] I don’t think it is the case. The president doesn’t think it’s the case.”

Paterson continued the theme Monday saying to NY1.com that some people are uncomfortable with too many powerful African-Americans: “Part of what I feel is that one very successful minority is permissible, but when you see too many success stories then some people get nervous.”

Satchel Pages ALL STARS 1946

Satchel Pages ALL STARS 1946

I do not feel that any of these comments are productive no matter how valid the claims. Like manic sports fans, political constituents will get critical. Poll numbers go up. Poll numbers go down. Unfortunately that comes with the life of being a politician. It has nothing to do with race.

But then again doesn’t everything have to do with race nowadays in this post-racial America that we are so blessed to live in?

Josh Gibson slides into home base at East-West All-Star Negro league baseball game in Chicago, 1944

Josh Gibson slides into home base at East-West All-Star Negro league baseball game in Chicago, 1944

Again, can someone tell me why in the age of electing an African American to the presidency, have the claims of racism against blacks increased rather than decreased?

I have been to a few Chicago Cubs games. Admittedly, there are more African Americans who are Chicago White Sox fans. The White Sox reside on the city’s South side which is predominately blue collar, African American and has large Irish constituency near what used to be Kominsky Park (now Cellular Field).

The Chicago Cubs play at Wrigley Field on the North side of the city which is predominately Caucasian professionals.

President Barack Obama has openly claimed to be a White Sox fan, as well as Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley- who are black and Irish respectively. Being the trend breaker, I living in the middle of the city, somehow gravitated towards the Cubs.

Quickly, I noticed that I was on wrong side of the bleachers. I was in the minority at the games I attended but I never heard any racists comments hurled at black players or myself.

Cubbies home run king Sammy Sosa was well loved in Chicago. African American shortstop Ernie Banks is known as being “Mr. Cubs.”.


1939 Negro Laegue All Star Team. (Image from Center for Negro League Baseball Research)

1939 Negro Laegue All Star Team. (Image from Center for Negro League Baseball Research)

According to sources on Negro League baseball, Caucasian major league players made $2,000 in 1905. A minor league player made, $500, and Negro League players made $466.

What any typical major league baseball player makes today, such as Milton Bradley’s 3 year $30 million dollar contract with the Chicago Cubs is a far cry from what Satchel Page of Josh Gibson made in 1946. Satchel or Josh would have never imagined the financial success of Sammy Sosa, Daryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Barry Bonds, Reggie Jackson, A-Rod,  Tony Gwynn, Albert Puljols or the many other famous baseball players of color that would follow his career in the Negro league.

I would hope that African American baseball players and politicians alike would experience financial success of today without the racism faced by their ancestors during yester-year. I must explore this further. There are only 40 or so games left in the season but I will attempt to secure a ticket to a Cubs game in order to witness any racism towards Milton Bradley or other black players for myself. I will keep you posted.


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AFROCITY


 

 
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