Hank on Heyward

The legendary Atlanta Braves slugger told The Associated Press Tuesday that Heyward, who is black, “can mean an awful lot to what ails baseball.”

Aaron says there are too few African-American players in the game. He also says there is a growing excitement about Heyward in Atlanta’s black community.

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10 Comments on Hank on Heyward

  1. Jack Straw // April 6, 2010 at 7:45 pm //

    While I agree that the “black community” will, and should, be increasingly excited by what I hope will be an outstanding career for J-Hey, I cannot agree that the dearth of black players is what “ails” baseball, or even that it is an ailment at all. It may seem tragic to Henry Aaron, but it is nothing more than a reflection of the culture. Baseball isn’t considered cool by as many black youths as 50 years ago. Doubtless there are many reasons why, but what Aaron speaks of as “ailing” baseball may really be what is “ailing” the black community. Aaron perhaps mistakes effect for cause.
    By saying there are not “enough” black players, is Aaron really saying there are too many Japanese players? Too many Dominicans? A mind like his insists on seeing everything as a zero sum game.

  2. Tokyokie // April 6, 2010 at 8:03 pm //

    It’s not like there’s a single factor that ails baseball. I think Hank’s absolutely right about at least one of them.

  3. Jack Straw // April 6, 2010 at 8:43 pm //

    I don’t consider the diminished number of black baseball players to be a bad thing. Nor do I consider it to be a good thing. It just is.
    Michael Jordan came out of college at a time when ESPN and cable television were fast maturing. Able to watch highlights several times each day, nearly an entire generation of young black guys wanted to “Be Like Mike”. Handsome, suave, intelligent, and the most amazing basketball player anyone ever saw, this was natural. Because basketball requires less equipment, less space, and less players than baseball, it is far easier to get a game together.
    There is also the possibility that young urban black guys consider baseball to be a sport for pussies.
    I see the lower number of black baseball players as nothing more than a statistical oddity, most likely reflective of a confluence of cultural factors, none of them invidious. I also think that this will change, and that over the next 25 years we will see more, rather than fewer, black baseball players. Perhaps “J-Hey Fever” will lead the next generation of young black guys to give baseball a serious try. Good for the “black community”, yes, but neither good nor bad for baseball.

  4. clete boyer fan // April 6, 2010 at 10:19 pm //

    Jack, let’s not read any ill into Hank’s comments. Those are the comments of a lot of older Black men, such as my dad and uncles, from that generation. When they were growing up baseball was THE game. When I was growing up in the Seventies baseball was still big but football and basketball were increasingly popular. Plus, more significantly, big time colleges had begun recruiting Blacks for their football and basketball teams on a much larger scale. As a result, the NBA (by the Seventies) and the NFL (by the Eighties) became majority Black leagues. African American baseballers were now point guards, running backs, and power forwards. All because of a wider array of sporting opportunities. As for me, if there’s a way to attract any of my fellow African Americans to my favorite sport, I’m all for it because there missing out on a helluva game.

  5. Tokyokie // April 6, 2010 at 10:46 pm //

    Jack, I’d argue that the game is healthier when it’s popular with a broader spectrum of society, and in that regard, I think the relative scarcity of non-Hispanic African-Americans in the game is a problem.

  6. Jack Straw // April 6, 2010 at 10:58 pm //

    I have never understood why any gifted athlete would not choose baseball. You can have a longer career, and it’s more fun. Throwing a basketball up and getting nothing but net feels great, and scoring a touchdown is sublime, but really: what in the world could possibly feel better than hitting a baseball 446 feet?

  7. PepeFreeUs // April 7, 2010 at 1:25 am //

    Jack, I’m begging you…please don’t make coming here a chore for me. We get it, you’re a conservative or libertarian or whatever. You don’t have to shoehorn it into every post.

  8. I run the MLB affiliate of RBI in Jackson Mississippi. I realize a reporter asked the question of ‘too few black players’ but ol Hank could sure lend his influence to the program as a fundraiser like SO many past players should.

  9. rankin' rob // April 7, 2010 at 7:22 am //

    Issues aside, I wish Hank had at least waited until the All Star break to put the pressure of saving baseball for African Americans on J-Hey’s shoulders. Let him play around the league first.

  10. Viva Rufino Linares! // April 7, 2010 at 11:48 am //

    I agree w/ Rob. Those are big shoes for Jay Hey to put on after game 1.

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