Monday, February 4, 2008

Day 30: Negro League Baseball

In reflection of Black History Month, today's BSOD looks upon why according to The Institute for Diversity and Ethics and Sport (TIDES), that the percentage of black major league players (from the 2006 rosters) is now 8.4 percent (this number does not include those who are foreign born). By comparison, in 1997 the percentage was double that - at 17 percent.

A recent article from, sheds some light on the subject of baseball, black youths, hip hop and the perception of the game. From the article titled, "Hunter on a mission to revive interest" (Angels outfielder leading peers in targeting black community)...

Torii Hunter is passionate about bringing young African-Americans back to baseball, and he's leading a movement of peers to reinvest the black community in a game once deeply ingrained in its culture.

A seven-time Gold Glove-winning center fielder with the Twins, about to embark on a new journey with the Angels, Hunter devotes time, energy and money to the task, spreading his gospel: Baseball is a wonderful life, if you give it a chance.

"I talk to kids in the neighborhood," Hunter said, "and they'll say, 'Baseball's a white sport. I'm into the NBA.' I ask them if they know about Jackie Robinson, and they say, 'Yeah, heard of him.' 'What about Hank Aaron?' They'll get this look and say, 'Who's he?'

"Man, that kills me. Our kids have lost touch with our history, our heritage. They don't know we had our own league, the Negro League, with all those great players. Something's got to be done. You have to start somewhere -- reach one kid, two kids. All you can do is your part. That's something I would love for the players to do. This is definitely a big issue."

...the article continues...

"When you look at basketball, you see LeBron James, you see how they are living and all the things that basketball does for them," he (current Twin Craig Monroe) said. "They are promoting them and showing them the 'good life.'

"That's what we are -- we are visual people. And when you see them on TV, you want to be like them."

Adding a modern beat to the game wouldn't hurt, Monroe added.

"When people talk about hip-hop music, it's like it's ghetto," he said. "But it's universal. Blacks, whites, everybody likes the music. If you watch football, like when I went to the Cowboys-Bears game in Chicago, before they kick the ball, they are playing Soulja Boy. If you try to do that in baseball, it's looked down upon.

"We've got to change the perception that because it's hip-hop music, it's not right for baseball."

Sabathia expressed the proactive theme resonating among players when he said, "We can all do more. Talking about the problem isn't going to solve it. It's time to do something."


Today's Baseball Song of the Day is the hip-hop song titled, "Negro League Baseball" by Natural Resource from Brooklyn, NY.

Natural Resource's talent consisted of turntablist James Hassan Barrett (DJ Aggie), and rappers Tsidi Ibrahim (What? What? aka Jean Grae) and Kobie Jawara Dixon (Ocean).

BSOD 30: Negro League Baseball
Artist: Natural Resource
Album: n/a
Released: 1996

Negro League Baseball Lyrics

Check it, check it
"First batter up, first-first batter up"

Now, entering the batter's box
is a guy who wears champion socks and likes rings with rocks
throw up my middle finger to the umpire
cause niggaz just choosin the new talent just, need to retire
Check the signals from my manager, the first base coach
He's throwin signs, tellin me the label's just playing cutthroat
Yo, I hit em with a tape or should I say I take a check swing
I hear the crowd sing, go meet plug and the telephone ring
He says I need more beats, wait a minute, no doubt
My temper runs out, three pitches later, I strike the fuck out
Yo shit like this happens to the real mc's
Because the labels wanna sign up the commercial wannabes
and if, it ain't that, it's just a little bit more, sayin
"Umm, can you put on a screwface and scream lyrics that's hardcore?"
I adore, this whole rap persona, but some of you A&R's
must be mixin coke witcha marijuana, talkin
*sniff* "Oooh, he got the new shit
I'm on his dick but that's an MC that come out with one baby hit"
I split atoms, blow up as if I was atomic
Labels talk so much shit yo I laugh at them like they was comics
Check the scoreboard, we're up by one
Two more hitters to go, and the song ain't even done, Baseball..

"First batter up well here's the pitch that's a curve
Second batter up because the first got served"

From the kids in the batting cages to the pro players (what-what)
to the labels and the mob and the beaches making waves (what-what)
Looking at the pitcher like, "Man what gives?"
They got one-arm fugitives throwin with prosthetic limbs ("eeewww")
look from the team to the umpire means that the
man got demoted from stadiums to refereein gyms
Synonyms from big cheese to the independent label couldn't
pay up they debt so they got cut like unpaid cable
B.. E.. I.. S..
B-O-L, accent on the (o goallll)
Feel the sweat trickling down the back of my neck
Tighten my grip on the bat, take a swing
and it's a technical foul (wait a minute)
Nah that's basketball whatever, good call
How come when black men hit the field, they were throwin bottles
now they throwin million dollar deals
When I steal bases I do it with pride
for Jackie Robinson certified, forerunner for us
Homeruns we must, hit em straight out the ballpark
I'm not patriotic, so I won't sing the National
Underlying stipulations playing underhanded ways
It pays to have your representative stay
or you'll have, top executives gettin all possesive
of your money, and it's not funny
But when uhh loot is involved all problems get solved
Umm, maybe because you supply they cocaine fetish?
To finish this, this business ain't nothin but corrupt
Forget all this garbage, I'd rather play tennis

"First batter up well here's the pitch that's a curve
Second batter up because the first got served"

Baseball was never for blacks
It used to be a pasttime for whites
Now it has mad Puerto Ricans
but that's not the point of the song
The point of the song and I make it mad simple
when I be flipping this script
is that the industry is all over the mound
pitching but nobody's makin any hits, hmm
Baseball is not just a sport
It's the verbal, mental, physical, spiritual
emotional level that we are on
It's about time that all you devils was gone
like charm, I said it and meant it
If you can not handle it then for your ears it's not intended
You can play the documented, all athletes quoted
Cause when you speak to be exploited then your spot will get exploded
Bases are loaded, but there is no RBI's in the stadium
where players try, to be hard as titanium
I got your cranium movin, when I be showin and provin
Now you fear, that your career, is goin down the tubes
and it'll be, along industry, that's withering
and was left oceans, about to blow to smithereens
I bring, lyrical formats that you'll admire
And to the Hall of Fame I'm going when I retire
They'll set your world afire, there is nobody to fear
when every umpire and A&R is screamin that you are outta here
And to your amazement, a tax writeoff is your replacement
You gotta face it, there is no other crew adjacent
With sounds from the basement, we rise
We energize, to take up the whole enterprise
By now you realize, that when we're in the place
That we will come fat, over piano and the bass
If you're looking for security then you can end your chase
Come home, to Negro League, and you'll be safe.. Baseball

No doubt, Negro League is in the house
No doubt, no doubt, knockin runs outs
Cause we do it like this, we do it like that
I was rockin stage just like to a bat
Sent to home back when umm, be doing my thing
Hit a homerun, with the Negro League theme
Do it like this, do it like that
I was rockin stage just like to a bat
Sent to home back when umm, be doing my thing
Hit the homerun with the Negro League swing


Anonymous said...

My company does video news stories on great people with awesome attitudes -- they don't get much better than some of the Negro League players who broke barriers in baseball!

You can see a video we did at MLB's recent symbolic draft of Negro League players, which includes Millito Navarro, Peanut Johnson, Charley Pride and Bill Blair as well as Ken Griffey and Dave Winfield.

I hope you enjoy it!

Public Address Announcer said...

Absolutely loved it Katy. Thank you very much. It was fascinating to see how MLB finally drafted these players and it allowed their families to show their pride and appreciation as well. Thank you.


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