There are times when society seems to take a hundred steps back in returning to what it once was. Most recently, the events in Charlottesville – and the aftermath – have split society into those whose heads are in the midst of WWII, and those whose are not. I’m not about to get political because even I can’t wrap my head around these tragedies, but I can focus my thoughts into the thing I know best.
Racism has no place in baseball.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before. On May 2, the night after racial slurs were shouted at him from the stands at Fenway Park, Orioles’ outfielder Adam Jones and other Red Sox players spoke on their experiences and racism in general. So I apologize if this is redundant, but even 4 months after the fact, in light of recent events it is important to say it again.
On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson made his Major League debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. In doing so he broke the most notable and honorable feat in baseball. This was not without sacrifice. He was thrown at and tormented. Robinson went through the worst, but not so that African American players would have to undergo the same thing. He put himself in that position so that one day, ball players of every race, ethnicity, culture, and background could come together under the lights to play the game that brings us all together.
Cardinals fans have been called racist. And in by no means am I making excuses or saying that none of them are, because that’s just false. Within a large, widespread fan base such as this, there are certainly some that might have different opinions than others. However, this is a small portion. The amount of fans that welcomed Dexter Fowler with open arms strongly outweighed those who did not due to the color of his skin.
And it’s not just African Americans. Yadier Molina, Carlos Martínez, José Martínez, and others are subject to the same cruelty – just because they are not cookie cutter white Americans. It’s not just the color of their skin. It’s often the language or the accent that creates a barrier that has no business being there. I hope something like that doesn’t stop anyone from loving any of these players.
José Martínez is one prime example of using the game to raise awareness. He uses media outlets to support his hometown of Venezuela and to alert people of the economic and political turmoil that is making it dangerous. He uses his position in the baseball community to stand up for a crisis that is close to his heart.
Defend your rights. Stand up for what you believe in. By all means, protest on your capitol steps, in the streets, in front of your city hall.
Just don’t turn America’s Pastime into a battleground.
Carry your Nazi flags and burn your torches somewhere else. Fight oppression and brutality somewhere else.
Within these walls, the only colors that matter are whether you wear the Cardinal Red or Cubbie Blue. And of course, that month’s color of CMart’s hair.