Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Jason Heyward - the latest of the New School of MLB Black Talent

Welcome to the majors Jason Heyward. You've hit a home run in your first major league at bat at 20 and now all eyes will be on you as the impact rookie of the year (at least til Stephen Strasburg comes up from the minors).

But to me, Heyward - who's already been compared to Ken Griffey Jr. and Roberto Clemente - represents the latest wave of young Black players coming into MLB and making an impact. And this is what the game needs after the numbers of Blacks fell to criminally low levels within the past 4 years.

Look around baseball now. You've got Matt Kemp and James Loney (Dodgers), Prince Fielder (Brewers), Ryan Howard (Phillies), Jimmy Rollins (Phillies), CC Sabathia (Yankees), David Price (Rays), Andrew McCutchen (Pirates), BJ (Rays) and Justin Upton (Arizona) just to name a few.

Throw in still great players like Torii Hunter, Curtis Granderson, Carl Crawford and perhaps the final season of my all-time fave Ken Griffey Jr. and you see productive Black players in the majors holding it down.

It's not a lot - and there's still an alarming dearth of Black pitchers/infielders - but it's enough put their stamp on the game and show people that the game of Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Larry Doby, Bob Gibson and so many others is still ours.

It will take MLB and their teams to continue marketing Heyward and the others as they challenge for All-Star spots. And let's face it, Black baseball fans are a small number because many folks just don't care anymoer - I can't even count how many "Is it football season" tweets and thoughts I've seen already.

But props to the brothers working keeping our face on the diamond in the majors and the minor leagues. Here's a bonus video from Dick's Sporting Goods - Griffey and Hunter playing sandlot in the store with Crawford, O-Dog and Ryan Braun (give Dick's credit for promoting Black players nowadays).

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