When Nick Castellanos fouled out to right on Saturday night during the top of the ninth inning of Game 6 of the World Series in Houston, it meant that the Astros were once again world champions and that Dusty Baker had finally won one as a skipper.
But, it also ended a season in which Major League Baseball did its best to show the world just how little they think of African-Americans. If it wasn’t for Baker and the likes of Meek Mill, Jazmine Sullivan, and Eric Burton — who all took part in pregame entertainment — the “Fall Classic” would have been devoid of African-American participation, as the World Series didn’t feature a single Black player born in the United States.
Dusty Baker did it for “the culture” because he was the only one that could.
When the Astros and Phillies announced their 26-man World Series rosters before Game 1, African-Americans were missing, making this the first time since 1950 that not a single U.S.-born Black player was taking the field in baseball’s most sacred series, as Houston outfielder Michael Brantley was out due to injury.
“Nah, don’t tell me that,’’ Baker said when he was made aware of the stat before the series started. “That’s terrible for the state of the game. Wow! Terrible. I’m ashamed of the game.
Do you know how pathetic you have to be as a league to make a 73-year-old Black man who has given his life to baseball — of all sports — say that in public? The bar is so low when it comes to Major League Baseball, and the culture of the sport keeps lowering it.
To understand why this season was such a great example of the sport’s disdain for African-Americans, all you had to do was look at the three most important days on Major League Baseball’s calendar — Opening Day, the All-Star Game, and the World Series.
For the first time since 1959, the Phillies — the other team in the World Series — didn’t have an African-American player on their Opening Day Roster. It coincided with the fact that only 7.2 percent of African-American-born players were on Opening Day rosters this season league-wide — which was even lower than the 7.6 percent from 2021. And when it came to the All-Star Game, of the 81 players that were selected, only five were African-American-born Black players — 6.17 percent.
Never forget that all of this occurred in a season in which Major League Baseball dared to “celebrate” Jack — not Jackie — Robinson’s 75th anniversary of breaking the color barrier, just two years after the league finally recognized the players of the Negro Leagues by adding them to their official records.
And to think, some folks had the audacity to be shocked at the fact that Baker was alone on that World Series stage, even if he wasn’t in spirit.
“I don’t think about being an African-American manager because I look in the mirror every day and I know what I am,” said Baker before Game 6. “You know what I’m saying? (But) I do know that there’s certain pressure from a lot of people that are pulling for me, especially people of color. And that part I do feel. I hear it every day… and so I feel that I’ve been chosen for this.”
Baker is now part of an exclusive club, as only three Black managers have ever won a World Series.
“I don’t think about being the oldest,” Baker continued. “I don’t think about my age. But I do think about being the third Black manager with Dave Roberts and my good friend Cito Gaston, who was responsible really for me as a kid when I first signed with the Braves.”
In April, Roberts called out Major League Baseball when it came to their efforts in attracting and promoting more African-American players as he said the situation was, “really getting uncomfortable.” Almost seven months later, it’s evident that Roberts was foreshadowing what we’d see in the World Series.
Over the last few days and in the coming weeks and months — and especially when Spring Training begins — Major League Baseball and folks that love to carry this racist sport’s water when it comes to their pathetic efforts at diversity will point to the money that has been donated and the programs that have been created to prevent what took place at the 2022 World Series from happening again. Their words will be as hollow as a Wiffle Ball.
Major League Baseball just experienced something that hadn’t taken place since the days of Jack Robinson. That’s not a sign of progress. It’s proof of an attempt to erase African-Americans from America’s pastime.