Watch 42 staring, Chadwick Boseman. And then watch Ken Burns’ documentary BASEBALL. Then watch SOUL OF THE GAME.
I am a baseball fan. I can’t tell exactly how I became one, but I am. Growing up in St. Louis during the time of Ozzie Smith, there as no choice! It was my maternal aunt, Myra, that took me to my first St. Louis Cardinals game. It was tradition for me and my older cousin, Nathaniel, to watch Opening Day (which a local holiday!) to watch the Busch family parade around the stadium which still bears their name, along with the Clydesdales. So, the sport has always ben a part of my life.
I also grew up in the era of Ken Griffey, Jr. AND Sr. You want to see the kid cry? Talk about Ken Griffey, Jr. And Bo Jackson. Google them. You’re welcome.
The irony, the love affair, with this sport I suppose began then. At 16, in seeing, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter play (for the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees, respectfully)? Oh, I was completely a fan! The fangirling notwithstanding, I knew my history. I am a fan, a student of history. I knew the contributions of Jackie Robinson. I knew who Moses Fleetwood Walker was. I knew who Satchel Paige was. And I still cry a little bit about Josh Gibson! I also know about the politics of the Gentleman’s Agreement.
As I became more of a fan of Major League Baseball (MLB), as I realized just the impact of Jack Roosevelt Robinson, I began to research more about the Negro Leagues. I planned to visit the Negro League Museum in Kansas City, Missouri! With that said, I appreciated the effort the MLB put forth to honor the Negro Leagues. But it sounded, it felt, like it wasn’t enough.
Now, this year, the MLB has begun to integrate the stats from the Negro Leagues into the greater statistical data of the MLB! How incredible is it to see this? This is something I can get behind! This is what embodies racial justice: it requires visibility and inclusion!
The Negro Leagues were not a fluke. They were not a fad. They produced legends and legacies (RIP Hammerin’ Hank Aaron). For that, I am proud to have been, to be, a Black baseball fan.