In the whitest – and corniest, if you will – place in this country, brothers stole the show.
That was the takeaway from a night MLB had to love. It could have been a disaster. It could have not moved the needle.
After all, MLB was hinging its marquee night on national TV on a 32-year-old movie that many of its current fans probably haven’t even seen. It was pitting two of their best teams in the game in an 8,000-seat band box in the middle of a corn field in Dyersville, Iowa — of all places.
Yes, it was a roll of the dice for MLB, holding its first-ever Field of Dreams game.
But the sport cashed in in so many ways. There were so many goosebump moments, so much action on the field. And yes, there was a Hollywood ending, as if Kevin Costner – star of the 1989 movie Field of Dreams – wrote it himself.
White Sox star shortstop Tim Anderson ended the epic showcase with a monster two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth, walking off the New York Yankees and giving Chicago a 9-8 victory.
For many, it was just a moment they soon won’t forget. But for many others the implication could be even greater.
Black and brown Major Leaguers showed out on a big stage. It was like baseball turned back the clock. It felt like a watershed moment, one young Black and brown kids sitting at home could have walked away from the TV saying, “Wow! That was fun. I want to be a star baseball player, too.”
Three African-American baseball players hit four homers in the game – three in the ninth inning.
First, Aaron Judge blasted a two-out, two-run shot in the ninth to pull the Yankees to within one run at 7-6. Then, Giancarlo Stanton followed that by belting an epic two-out, two-run home run to put the Yankees up, 8-7.
The noise level, the buzz at the stadium was amazing. Stanton’s shot went viral on social media. MLB registered in a big way on a Thursday night in August.
Then, Anderson totally stole the show with his game-winning homer into the cornfield in right. Fireworks blared and lit up the sky in center field. It was an absolute spectacle.
And it was impossible not to see the elephant in the room. In a sport that has struggled to attract Black people to its game, the stars of the game were all Black and brown on this night.
Even Alex Rodriguez couldn’t let this moment pass without commenting on it in the postgame show on Fox.
“And here’s what I love, fellas,” A-Rod told his fellow analysts. “Four home runs by African Americans. This is a big night for baseball.
“It’s a historic night. We need more African Americans coming back (to baseball) like when we broke in, and I just love to see it.”
Rodriguez is spot on. Some of Major League Baseball’s greatest players who ever played this game were Black, starting with Jackie Robinson in 1947.
And while there are still Black and brown stars in the game today, the numbers have dwindled — although there has been an uptick the last few seasons.
And there are more to come in the minor leagues.
Still, it’s just that we haven’t seen the Black and brown stars on the big stage.
At the All-Star Game in Denver in July, the story line was about Fernando Tatis Jr. and Shohei Ohtani. In fact, all the stars of the game were foreign born — even the MVP of the game, Vlad Guerrero Jr., and the closer, Liam Hendricks (who gave up those two homers to Judge and Stanton last night) who got the save.
Baseball is clearly an international game. And that’s amazing.
But Black people play and excel at baseball. For decades, Black kids have been steered toward playing basketball and football.
Many AAU and high schools won’t allow the kids to play multiple sports. They want the kids to focus on just one sport and play it 24/7. Hence, baseball was pushed to the side.
The notion is ridiculous. Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray is Exhibit A. In 2019, he was the first player EVER to be drafted in the first round in the MLB and NFL draft. He chose to play football.
Baseball is fighting the cool factor. Some kids just don’t think it’s a cool thing to do.
But Anderson is as cool as they come in any sport. He’s dripping with swag. You saw it clearly when he went around the bases, both animated and with style.
For sure, the brothers stole the show in Iowa. And on that night, MLB might have stolen the hearts of some Black and brown kids, too.