Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Rev Jesse Jackson's organization, has not been satisfied with the amount of Negro players in Major League Baseball. Particularly the lack of such players on the roster of the Atlanta Braves.
The director of sports operations for Rainbow/PUSH, Dexter Clinkscale, along with Southeast Regional Director Joe Beasley, was able to help convince the Braves to meet with reps of the organization to discuss this troubling situation.
Beasley said Monday afternoon, "I think it was a lack of diligence on the part of the Braves to recruit African-American players. There's not diminished enthusiasm for African-Americans playing baseball. It's simply the opportunity hasn't presented itself."
And we couldn't agree more. Rather than focusing their efforts on simply fielding the best team they can, the Braves should be focusing their efforts on tapping into that undiminished enthusiasm for baseball within the Negro community.
There was a time, not long ago, when the Braves roster boasted several Negro players. One wonders what might have happened. Rainbow/PUSH academically points out that their is no diminished interest in baseball within the Negro community. Clearly, this would indicate that the pool of young Negro players to draw from is as large as ever. And, if the pool of Negro players is as strong as ever; well, that would leave only one explanation as to why the Braves don't have more Negroes on the roster: racism.
In response to some of the criticism levied by Rainbow/PUSH, Braves general manager John Schuerholz said: "You go to where the talent leads you. Finding major league-caliber baseball players is far too difficult if you try to narrow your criteria down to demographics."
The implication being that the Braves would prefer to narrow the criteria down to talent. This is an all too typical sentiment when dealing with the plantation mentality of the team owners and their slave bosses. Forget about the fact that Atlanta is a city with a very high concentration of Negroes. Search elsewhere for "talent" to fill out your roster.
Countered Beasley, "As I expected, [Schuerholz?s] idea is the bottom line: I'll put the best 40 men I can get wherever I can get them from on the field, and that's fair. But the fact of the matter is if they put resources into recruiting here in the United States, and more specifically here in Atlanta, there are talented players here."
Rainbow/PUSH already unequivocally demonstrated, by making their statement, that there is NO diminished interest in baseball within the Negro community. Clearly, the ownership doesn't understand their responsibilities. The Braves' are operating under the flawed mentality that it is in their interest to please their fans by bringing in the best talent they can find. Regardless of where the talent originates or what color skin.
In a perfect world, this might be fine. But doing so doesn't take into consideration a very important factor. The name of the team is the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta. By using the city's name, the team assumes the responsibility of ensuring that, before they go off to the Caribbean or Latin America looking for talent, they scour Atlanta high and low for the talent to fill out their roster. We've established that Atlanta has a large Negro population. And we've established that, and it is proven by Rainbow/PUSH's statement, there is NO diminished enthusiasm for baseball within that Negro community. It only makes sense that, if the Braves would follow this suggested manner of acquiring talent, the result would be a swelling of Negroes on the roster.
"You slipped down to nothing, now you've got one, we expect it to start going up higher," Beasley said was the sentiment he voiced in the meeting. "We want to see incrementally it move back up, rather than moving down. There was an openness on [Schuerholz's] part to talk and to be in dialogue and hopefully be in partnership in trying to make sure that it happens. He was very nice, a gentleman. I'm going to hold him to his word to work with us and move those numbers back up to a respectable level."
At the time of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson, the Braves had no Negro players on the roster. In an effort to shield themselves from the blinding light of righteous indignation, the Braves called up a Negro outfielder (Willie Harris), who just happened to be from Robinson's home town. Such a transparent act of patronization is the sort of thing that sets race relations back 100 years.
Some will wonder what business Rainbow/PUSH has in setting the agenda of how MLB teams conduct their scouting and talent evaluations. Frankly, it seems natural. As stated earlier in this post, Rainbow/PUSH has a director of sports operations. It only makes sense that he use his title to operate sports.
An additional benefit is the experience and success Rainbow/PUSH has had in influencing and setting the agenda in other industries. Look no further than radio. Think the Imus situation could have been handled so effectively and seamlessly without the input of Rainbow/PUSH? And, do you think all the honest and fruitful dialogue and town hall type discussions that took place afterwards would have ever come about and led to the myriad of improvements that have been established?
On a side note: Andruw Jones had no comment on the Braves having no Negroes on the roster.