Brewers Black Baseball Players Excel
Just because I don’t play the card does not mean it is not in my deck!
The last place outside of the media free locker room or clubhouse that political correctness is not a worry is the barbershop. As I sat at my barbershop which is Ronnies on Center street in Milwaukee I heard something that caught my attention about the Milwaukee Brewers that I thought was funny and at the same time sad.
The elders in the shop were talking about how it was about time the Brewers got over their hatred of black ballplayers and put winning first. Hatred of black ballplayers? The Brewers? Put winning first? I was at a crossroads of thought when I heard this brought up and wondered aloud if that was the case in the past and now. I really have never sensed the Brewers from a standpoint of racial aspect have been a franchise that has went out of their way to avoid black ballplayers. I also feel they have never went out of their way to cater to brothers either, they just went for what they thought were the best players for their franchise at that time.
The one instance where there was a question of racial issues in the Brewers franchise was with one Gary Sheffield, and even with that one you have to cite the source at the time of the allegations of racism. I can think of a lot of ballplayers from back to George “Boomer” Scott, Cecil Cooper, Darryl “Hambone” Hamilton, Gregg Vaughn, Eric Young, Jeffrey Hammonds, Jeffrey Leonard and so on and so on. Henry Aaron is the most revered baseball player in Milwaukee history, so there is love from that perspective. The Brewers even gave a black manager a shot in Davey Earl Lopes, that didn’t work out to well so we just move on. My point is the Brewers under the old regime of the Selig Family and the new regime Run by Mark Attanasio have been at least on par from what I can see in terms of ratio of African-American ballplayers as major aspect of the franchise. Actually the Brewers in 2008, which are 20+ games over .500 can on any given day if C.C. Sabathia is pitching have as many as 5 brothers on the field which is way above the ratio of 8-10% of African-American ballplayers in the Major Leagues now.
Now the next question is have the black ballplayers been the anchors and or focal point of the franchise identity over the years and my answer to that is, NO! That is no up until recently, and I mean the last few years have the black ballplayers been highlighted as much as any other players on the team. Prince Fielder gets a much push by the franchise as Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks as much as J.J. Hardy and now C.C. Sabathia is bringing a exposure to the Brewers they have not enjoyed since Yount or Molitor. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t try to in the past, just not as hard to me as they should of tried and promoted the black ballplayers over the years.
Now back to the barbershop. I think those feelings presented have some merit, but not as much as one would believe. I really see it this way, we got a good thing going on here right now in Milwaukee. The team is winning and I see a lot of black ballplayers helping get that job done. If I need to play my race card I will play it, the game I see right now doesn’t justify doing so.
Steve Haywood, Host of “That Being Said”
ESPN Radio 540 Milwaukee