Friday, March 12, 2010

Torii Hunter Drops The Ball

I was surprised to see Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim centerfielder Torii Hunter designated as a pinhead during Bill O'Reilly's Patriots and Pinheads segment on last night's O'Reilly Factor.

Hunter is a huge fan favorite around MLB. He is one of those players who impresses fans of opposing teams with his skills. One of the reasons for his popularity is because he does he talking on the field.

However, a couple of weeks ago, Hunter described Latin Amerian ballplayers as "impostors" and went all Gary Sheffield on us:

People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they're African-American. They're not us. They're impostors. Even people I know come up and say: 'Hey, what color is Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a black player?' I say, 'Come on, he's Dominican. He's not black.' ...

As African-American players, we have a theory that baseball can go get an imitator and pass them off as us. It's like they had to get some kind of dark faces, so they go to the Dominican or Venezuela because you can get them cheaper. It's like, 'Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?' ... I'm telling you, it's sad.

You might recall that during the 2007 season that Gary Sheffield, then a member of the Detroit Tigers, had choice words for Latin American ballplayers. When asked why there were more Latin Americans than African Americans in MLB Sheffield cut loose:

What I called is that you’re going to see more black faces, but there ain’t no English going to be coming out . . . (It’s about) being able to tell (Latin players) what to do – being able to control them. Where I’m from [Sheffield is from Tampa Bay] you can’t control us.

Sheffield's comments are sad but predictable. As I documented in this article he's been making these sorts of remarks for two decades. But Hunter is about the last African American player I would have expected to express such an opinion.

Now Hunter has since clarified his remarks stating the use of the word "impostor" was a "wrong word choice." I'd say there were a lot of wrong word choices. A bag of chips?

Hunter should know that Latin ballplayers were also subject to discrimination in MLB. While some Latin ballplayers broke into MLB other Latin ballplayers like Luis Tiant, Sr. (the father of Boston Red Sox legend Luis Tiant) were barred entry into MLB because their skin was too dark and ended up playing in the Negro Leagues instead.

When darker skinned Latin Americans were allowed to play big league ball they were subject to the same conditions as their African American counterparts. San Francisco Giants pitching legend Juan Marichal spoke of these experiences:

Those days were very tough, ... All my teammates are white and it was a different time. At times when we traveled, I couldn't go out to eat with the white players; I had to wait until someone brought something out to the bus. We couldn't stay in the same hotels or live in a different neighborhood.

Now Torii Hunter can thank his lucky stars he is African American. If a white ballplayer had said what he said he would have been fined, suspended and be declared persona non grata by the liberal media.

Torii Hunter is one of the greatest centerfielders to have ever played the game. However, on this play he dropped the ball.

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