Baseball? Credibility? Sh-----!
So much about the creditability of baseball. When Hank Aaron, was chasing Babe Ruth's homerun record he was getting thousands of pieces of hate mail daily. Now, all of a sudden, reminiscent of Muhammad Ali, Aaron is beloved and respected. Ty Cobb was the very first player voted into baseball's Hall of Fame. Cobb was a known member of the Klu Klux Klan.
Baseball. Is not this the same game that didn't allow African-Americans to play until 1947? The Boston Redsox didn't get a Black player until 1959. Jackie Robinson had already been retired 3 years by then. And, the New York Yankees, didn't hire a Black player until 1955, the year before Mr. Robinson retired.
It was said that the late Casey Stengel, a Yankee manager back then, remarked when they finally got Elston Howard --a Black player--that Howard couldn't even run. Yet, Howard became the first African-American to win the American League MVP (1963) Award and was the first to win the World Series MVP Award in 1956. Vic Power, a Cuban player, was one of the best defensive first basemen to ever put on a glove. My late father, James Stanley, Sr., called Power "The Willie Mays of First Basemen" because of his fielding flair and showmanship. It was said that the Yanks passed on Power because he had a white wife. What they didn't know was that she wasn't white but a light-skinned Cuban.
Another note about the RedSox who were the last team to obtain a Black player is, that before the Boston Redsox finally made Ellijah "Pumpsie" Green, their first Black player, they had passed on both Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays. Did you ever notice that Jackie Robinson's number 42 is Willie Mays' number 24 in reverse? During Mr. Robinson's tryout with the Boston Redsox --yes, he tried out with Boston--the word from the executive offices was "Get that nigger off the field." Art Rust Jr., the legendary African-American writer/sportscaster used that exact same phrase as a title for one of his famous books.
Creditability in the game you say? That reminds me of a famous phrase the great Marion Boykin often uses, "perpetrating a fraud." I think my readers get his gest. The meaning is self explanatory. I'm applying Marion's phrase, since it seems to fit the so-called claims by the powers to be in baseball that they have to bring creditability back to the game of baseball.
Ty Cobb was the very first player voted into baseball's Hall of Fame. The "Georgia peach," was his nickname. Cobb was a known member of the Klu Klux Klan. As was Hall of Famer Tris Speaker, another star player of that time. Cobb was going to be banned from baseball. Nobody, and I mean nobody, liked Tyrus Raymond Cobb. When the powers to be called Cobb in to inform him of their plan to expel him from the game, Ty simply told them if they jerked him, he'd spill the beans on them. Cobb mentioned a thing or two, including antitrust laws. Cobb wasn't the nicest guy in the world but he wasn't the dumbest. He did quite well in the stock market too. Any how, after his little talk with the powers to be Cobb ended up with a mere suspension.
Another sweet note about Georgia. They honored Cobb the Klan member and banned Ray Charles. I know the situation was corrected but had they done it right in the first place there would have been no need for atonement. A bite of trivia: Ray Charles' real name was Ray Charles Robinson. I bet many of you saw the movie "Ray" that was so aptly portrayed by Jaime Foxx and knew that already but I knew before--got ya. Small note here. Ty Cobb in his later years said of Willie Mays that he was the games' best player. I guess even an ole racist has to wake up sometimes.
When folks talk about how Babe Ruth helped to change the game of baseball they talk about how his homeruns changed not only the way the game was played but helped erase the memory of the BlackSox scandal. Hey, these guys threw a World Series! Some show of love here by Ty Cobb for the Babe. It seems Cobb and Ruth once roomed together on a barnstorming tour. When Cobb found out he and Ruth were roomies he told the gent in charge to change his room. "I've never ate or slept with a nigger before and I'm not going to start now," said Cobb. It was widely rumored that Ruth had Black blood in him. Can you feel the love--What about the creditability?
At the root of the BlackSox scandal was that the owner of the Chicago White Sox was constantly jerking and short changing his players. Look wrong is wrong, but the great "Shoeless Joe Jackson" the man who swung the heaviest bat (44oz.Black Betsy) and whom the Babe himself modeled his swing after, had no clue what was going on. Cheap was an understatement to describe the WhiteSox owner. Commisky was making money off everything even the soda concession. The team earned the nickname "Blacksox" way before the scandal because rather than washing the teams uniforms after every game, Commisky was so cheap he washed them 3 or 4 games later. Thus, the fans started calling the dirty uniformed players the "Blacksox." So cheap was Commisky that he would jerk around any player or pitcher who had a clause in his contract allowing a bonus for a certain amount of wins or homeruns. Also, when a player got too close to obtaining the bonus he would instruct the manager not to play him in order to ensure the player wouldn't be eligible for the bonus. Creditability of the game?
When Hank Aaron, was chasing Babe Ruth's homerun record he was getting thousands of pieces of hate mail daily. Now, all of a sudden, reminiscent of Muhammad Ali, Aaron is beloved and respected. Talk about a pioneer and true hero, as the first black player to gain fame and play on a white team, Jackie had to remain composed and maintain his dignity in the face of hate mail and death threats against himself and his lovely wife Rachel. So much about the creditability of baseball.
The late Bill Veeck, who once owned the Cleveland Indians, was going to buy the Philadelphia Athletes in 1944. The deal was set and made. Veeck had a great plan to break the color line through the A's an all Black team. He was going to get Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell. But a false friend of Veeck tipped off the then baseball commissioner Keensaw Mountain Landis, concerning Bill's intentions. Landis, who was the judge that handled the Mann Act case against the first Black heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, then sold the team to somebody else. Landis felt Blacks had no place in baseball. So when Veeck showed up to buy the team it was already sold. Nothing like keeping your word.
Stanley Frank Musical, aka Stan Musical is a name African-Americans should never forget. Besides being a great, great baseball player he is an even greater man. Back when the Brooklyn Dodgers were going to play the St. Louis Cardinals, in Jackie Robinson's first season, the Cardinals players voted to boycott the games. Stan Musical stood up in the clubhouse and told his teammates he'd have no part of it. This seven (7) time batting champion, the first National league player to win the Most Valuable Player Award (3) three times and lifetime . 331 hitter (In 1948 Musical led the entire major leagues in all the top offensive categories with the exception of homeruns, he was one short with 39) told his teammates that Robinson had the right to be there like anybody else.
Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. As the Bible says...be doers of the word. Musical was such a gentleman that when Jackie Robinson got to first base, the position Musical was playing, he took off his baseball glove and stuck out his hand to welcome Robinson to the major leagues. Yea, there has only been one "Stan The Man" Musical. We won't see his likes again on or off the diamond. Now, that was a man that brought creditability and class to the game!
The Late Great Roberto Clemente was one of the greatest Latin players to ever don a baseball uniform. He too felt the sting of racism when he was being kept hidden and jerked around by the Dodgers due to their 'quota' system. Teams would take and play only a certain number of Black and Latin players. The Dodgers would not send Clemente up or play him. Clemente finally landed in Pittsburgh.
Isn't this the same game that didn't have Blacks and Whites rooming together until the 1960's? The St. Louis Cardinals, the first National league team to wear their names on their uniforms were the first to put blacks and whites together. Curt Flood whose lawsuit changed the course of baseball and sports has yet to get his due for the sacrifices he made. One day while hanging around the batting cage, Flood approached Mr. Busch, the team owner, and asked why the Black players didn't room with their white teammates? Mr. Busch claimed he wasn't aware of the situation. To his credit he corrected it. Again another person who added creditability and class to the game.
Despite this long history of baseball slights and lack of creditability, here we are in 2004 and Willie Randolph has just become the first African-American baseball manager in New York, the "Mecca of communications." The "capital of the world." The city that has two baseball teams and is noted for its sophistication just appointed an African-American as head coach. Here is the killer.
At Shea Stadium the park that hosts the National league team, (the league that first opened the doors to Blacks) last season had no season credentials available to the AFRICAN AMERICAN MEDIA. I have nothing against my Latin brothers or the oriental brothers and sisters, but didn't Jackie Robinson break the color barrier in 1942? He broke the color barrier but it seems that now when I first asked about why my season pass was terminated a couple of years back, I was told that the league wanted them to cut back. How does that go...last ones in first ones out? That was a few years back but what about now? And they talk about the Creditability of the game?
Barry Bonds is now the villain. They got Jason Giambi but they were shooting for Barry. Why is Bonds the villain? Does this have to do with Barry's refusal to kiss butt? I remember when Mike Schmidtz the great Philadelphia Phillies third basemen, was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. He said one of the things he regretted during his career was that he could have been nicer.
But there he was a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Barry Bonds won three Most Valuable Player Awards way before all this Balco stuff. Remember Pittsburgh? He is the only leftfielder to win more than one gold glove. He was the only National leaguer to do 40-40 (over 40 homeruns and 40 stolen bases in a single season) and the only player to steal over 50 bases and hit over 20 homeruns in one season. When Bonds was chasing both Roger Maris and Mark McGuire's records I didn't see the Maris family saluting him. Nor did I hear anybody squawk when McGuire was pitched to as he caught and surpassed Maris. Yet, they wouldn't pitch to Bonds. As I see it, they didn't want that Black guy surpassing Mark. Just like back in the day when the great Hank Greensburg had 58 homeruns. Two shy of the Babe Ruth home run record and three shy of a new record. A lot of talk went around suggesting that they weren't going to let a Jewish guy surpass the Babe. Seems like in those last couple of games, Mr. Greensburg, didn't get too much or anything to hit. Creditability of the game?
Way I see it, if creditability is to be brought back to the game then there is a lot of work to be done.
Hey Bill White resigned as National League president. He told me the powers to be in the game were not going to change their ideas, policies and mind sets. When the game can't even find any real jobs of merit for the likes of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks and Lou Brooke. Yet, a guy like Don Zimmer, can always find one. I'm with Marion. Creditability? What a fraud.
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