RUSH: Bud Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball… Did you hear this? They’re gonna launch an investigation to find out why blacks are not playing baseball. They want to find out why.
Apparently major league rosters — they’ve done research out there — and they have found only 7.7% of major league players are African-American. There are a lot of Dominicans and Latin-American players, but African-Americans are only 7.7%, and there are some teams that don’t even have one. Of course, this is the anniversary year of Jackie Robinson breaking down the race barrier. So they’re all wringing their hands over this, and launching an investigation to try to figure out why young African-Americans don’t want to go play baseball.
Why, instead, are they playing football or basketball? In a related study, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association has decided to study why a dwindling number of white guys play basketball. Only kidding about that. That is not happening. The National Football League, Major League Baseball, the NBA, none of them are commissioning a survey to find out why so few Asians participate in their sports. Only Major League Baseball is digging deep to find out why African-Americans are choosing not to play baseball.
In the story on this, on the second page of the story, whoever writes the story, there is a theory espoused. The theory is that with all the concussions happening in football, African-Americans might all of a sudden decide to quit playing football and start playing baseball again. Now, there are probably a whole host of reasons why African-Americans aren’t playing baseball. One would be Michael Jordan. Another would be Tiger Woods. They’re all doing something else. Charles Barkley.
The role models for young African-Americans are not playing baseball. In addition to that, you can’t just go out and play baseball. You’ve gotta get a big field and you’ve gotta go out and you have to find somebody that’s got a ball, and then you’re gonna lose that ball when somebody fouls it off into the gutter or it’s gonna get dirty. Everybody’s gotta have a glove. Everybody’s gotta have baseball shoes. You have to have a mitt. You’ve gotta find a diamond and all this.
Then you’ve gotta find a reasonable number of guys that also have a bat and also have access to gloves that want to play with you. Basketball, you don’t need anything. You need a ball, a hoop, and you can go out there by yourself and start shooting around. Football, you also need some other people. But you can get two guys out there to toss a football around and they can pretend. Baseball is a little bit more involved. I’ll never forget when I was a kid playing baseball.
We couldn’t find diamonds.
I mean, every kid in the world played; it didn’t matter who. We’d play with one ball until it was so dirty we couldn’t see it any more then we’d go to our parents and beg for a new baseball, and they always held out. We didn’t get a new ball until the one we were playing with was either falling apart at the seams or just knocked lopsided. And then finding a diamond was tough. It’s a small town, too, but finding a place to play was tough. Still, we did, but…
Boy, getting a new baseball!
You take it out of the box, and you smell the rawhide. The smell of a new baseball when you’re a kid, and it’s brand-new and it’s white, doesn’t last long. Then you go to your major league game and you want to know, “How does every ball stay white? Why don’t their balls get dirty in the big leagues?” Then you learn there’s 60 of them for every game. None of that seems to have any magic for kids today. I remember flying back to New York after Rush to Excellence Tour in the late eighties, early nineties.
We were in our arrival route over New Jersey. It’s a Sunday afternoon in the spring or summer. I’m looking out the window and there are countless baseball diamonds with nobody on ’em. I was thinking how, as a kid, I would have killed for diamonds that looked like that to play on, not just some grass field where we had to mark off bases and so forth. We even played during the rain. We did the rainout business, and we had a guy whose dad gave us a fake tarp to put on our little field when it rained.
We had our ground crew. We did the whole thing. I’ll never forget it. One of my first big, real crushes was not making the high school baseball team ’cause I thought I was a lock. That was one of the greatest learning experiences I’d ever had. I thought I was a lock, and I didn’t make the first cut. I went home and told my dad. I said, “Does the coach not like you or something?” He said, “Hey, son, don’t lay this off on me. You’re the one that got cut. You’re the one that may not be good enough. Did you try as hard as you should have?”
I thought I did.
Anyway, who cares? Okay, 7.7% are choosing to play, others aren’t. So what? They’re finding other things to do. I wonder… No, I better not offer that as a partial explanation. Never mind. (long pause) It may not just be baseball that young people are choosing not to engage in, because there are other opportunities, including doing nothing. (interruption) Well, tell me. What’s the deal? (interruption) What do you mean, “Everybody knows the deal”? I don’t know what it is. (interruption)
Well, okay. Okay. (interruption) Is that what it is? (interruption) Is that what it is? (interruption) Are you giving me the thought in young black neighborhoods? Is this what’s…? (interruption) Okay, here’s what Snerdley is saying. Snerdley says, “Baseball, that’s…” Did you say “Latin-American guys”? (interruption) “Spanish guys play baseball. Football is black guys. Football or basketball, that’s black guys.” Right? “Hockey. Hockey is white guys.” (interruption) “Boxing is mostly Spanish guys now. There are still some brothers in boxing. So it’s just the way it’s evolved, and it ain’t cool to play baseball because Spanish guys play it.” Okay.