Terrence Mann (James Earl Jones) in “Field of Dreams”
“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”
This quote succinctly articulates why baseball pumps through the veins of its fans.
Jackie Robinson did as much for the Civil Rights movement in America as any other American. Not only did he integrate the game, he integrated our society’s family rooms. Huddled around their radio, families listed to and rooted for a black man to succeed, because he was representing them.
Think about the cancellation of the 1994 World Series and the Steroid era that followed. Think about baseball’s own hypocritical and inconsistent war on drugs.. The fool’s gold baseball was minting in the 90’s and early 2000s was a mirror. The mirror reflected the ramifications of excess and greed. Yes, baseball still show us the face of America. More and more, baseball and America’s face is a Latino one.
Much was made last season about the style of Yasiel Puig. He was too brash, too emotional, and too demonstrative for the old guard. More and more Latino ball players celebrated their exploits on the diamond, smashing traditions that say not to “show up” your opponent. “Foreign born” ball players made up 28% of the player population last year. Almost all of them hispanic.
On the flip side, only 8% of the player population is African-American. The sport is quickly becoming one made up of well off, highly trained and coached Americans and players outsourced from Latino baseball factories. Sound familiar?
Martin Luther King was not just a great man for African-Americans. Dr. King was a man for all Americans. His dream is clearly still relevant for the African-American community. It’s also relevant for the quickly growing hispanic population, and the ever increasing population living in poverty.
Baseball can once again usher in more change, justice, and diversity . Baseball, and it’s lovers, should embrace the passion and culture brought to it by its Latino ball players, while working to bring baseball back to the poor who were born in America. That’s my baseball dream for the coming decade.
Baseball lovers, Happy Martin Luther King day.