A strange World Series
Fifty years ago, a frail Jackie Robinson spoke before a 1972 World Series game. It was the 25th anniversary of his debut with the Dodgers in 1947. Jackie looked at the players lined up before the game and saw some of MLB's best black players, from Reggie Jackson to Vida Blue to Joe Morgan. He called on owners to hire a black manager. It happened two years later, when Frank Robinson joined the Cleveland Indians.
On Friday, Houston and Philadelphia will meet in the Fall Classic. It should be a great series between the surprise Phillies and the Astros, back for the fourth time in six years. It will be a World Series without a U.S.-born black player, if you can believe that. This is from SI:
Looking around Memorial Stadium before Game 1 of the 1983 World Series, Phillies star Gary Matthews saw a lot of Black talent.
Joe Morgan. Eddie Murray. Garry Maddox. Ken Singleton. Al Bumbry. Disco Dan Ford. And plenty more that night in Baltimore.
"There were quite a few of us," Matthews recalled.
To be sure, Houston's Jose Altuve and Philadelphia's Jean Segura are among scores of Latin players helping keep big league rosters diverse.
But for the first time since 1950, shortly after Jackie Robinson broke the Major League Baseball color barrier, there project to be no U.S.-born Black players in this World Series.
Zero. "That is eye opening," said Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. "It is somewhat startling that two cities that have high African American populations, there's not a single Black player."
The Astros do have Dusty Baker, a black manager, and Gary Pettis, a black third base coach. I'm not sure about the Phillies.
What does it mean? First, a little bad luck, because the Yankees and Padres, the two LCS losers, have black stars, like Aaron Judge. Second, how much baseball is played in the inner city these days? I don't know, but my guess is that there are other activities.
Maybe it means nothing. At the same time, it makes you wonder what Jackie Robinson would say about this. He called for a black manager in his last public speech of 1972. Today, he'd be calling for players.
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