2017 World Series MVP George Springer says players have a responsibility
Lead Picture: George Springer of the Houston Astros as an American League All Star at the 90th MLB All Star Game on July 9th at Progressive Field in Cleveland. (PHOT0/KENNETH D. MILLER)
The Major League Baseball All Star Game has come and is now gone from Cleveland, and while it left in its mist a local Cleveland Indians pitcher as Shane Bieber as the game MVP, it also left the stinging reality regarding its lack of inclusion for African Americans.
Sadly there has not been any sense of urgency on behalf of Major League Baseball or its players to alter the landscape of the paltry 8.4 percent of Blacks from either the United States or Canada, the highest figures since 2012 according to the latest statistics.
Those abysmal numbers are just for those who have made it to the big leagues, it does not account for Major League Baseball’s appalling failure to include Blacks in other aspects of its game, such as groundskeepers, clerks, administrators, ticket takers, analytics and many other capacities such as its pitiful lack of Black representation during the most recent All Star Game festivities at Progressive Field.
Among the many low-lights was the unveiling of the massive flag that covered the outfield for the playing of the National Anthem. There wasn’t a single person of color toting the garment of America.
I did manage to run into Commissioner Rob Manfred and as he signed autographs and scuttled from one interview to another, but appointed a designee to discuss with me the issue of inclusion with America’s pastime.
One person who did not shy away from the subject was Houston Astros star outfielder George Springer III, one of the participants for the American League All Stars.
Springer, 29, was born in New Britain, Connecticut, to parents who are of Puerto Rican and Panamanian origin. His mother, Laura, is from Utuado, Puerto Rico and his father George II, is from Panama.
He has won several awards included among them are the Silver Slugger Award, became an MLB All-Star and a World Series champion. In 2017 World Series he hit a record tying five home runs in a seven-game win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Today he is a star among stars and during his exclusive interview with the Call & Post accepted the challenge to advocate for inclusion of African Americans in Major League Baseball.
“I think the game has obviously become a lot more diverse in general than it normally has been, but I think the hardest part is attracting young kids to the game of baseball,” Springer explained.
“I come from an area where it is a lot more easier to play basketball, football, tennis or soccer than it is to play baseball. That’s because the equipment is expensive, travel programs are expensive, but I know that Major League Baseball is to trying and get kids from all different backgrounds invested in the game.”
Springer feels this younger generation of players that bring a flare; swag and excitement can potentially be the inspiration to attract younger kids to the game.
“I think the young generation of players today are going to be the ones who attract the new wave of kids. The bat flips, the celebrations, having fun on the field that’s what a lot of people want to see. Baseball has known to be boring, but its not when you’re on the field. I think baseball is starting to look a lot more attractive,” he added.
Springer welcomed that responsibility.
“It’s going to take everybody from every different background. It doesn’t just set on one guy back, it’s all of our responsibility to go out and do our job as mentors and spokesperson for the game to go out and get kids from anywhere and everywhere involved in the game.”
Spring added that it doesn’t hurt for players of color such as him to have some success that can translate to Blacks and people of color as well.