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30 Year’s And Counting – Baseball & Black History Month

Bronx, NY: If there is one thing that demonstrates the validity, soul and strength of a any minority population in this country it is the longevity of the organizations and movements that had been established to correct injustices and racial disparities.

As such, with yesterday February 29 (leap year) being the last day of Black History Month, we in Latino Sports would like to applaud the many organizations in the African-American community that have sustained themselves for as many years that I can remember in our own history with Latino Sports.

I cherished the alliances that Latino Sports made with Jessie Jackson’s organization, Rainbow Push on the move to expose the problems of not enough people of color in the various executive positions in many of the sports franchises back in the late 80’s and 90’s. His then representative, Charles Farrell had reached out to us and explained their concerns and interest in addressing the problem within the Latino sports community, especially in baseball and it was an instant alliance. We jointly formed the Latino Sports Initiative (LSI). It was this organization with its in depth study of the conditions of the baseball academies in the Dominican Republic that helped transform those old barrack style academies into the almost country club academies of today.

During that period we held our first conference on equality in sports held in the Dominican Republic which brought together a notable number of executives from not just baseball, but from basketball and other sports. That conference was a highlight of our work as we helped to expose that there was an organization that would be advocating for minorities in sports and the sports franchises took note. Little by little we have seen slow, but steady development in this area between the corporate level of the sports world, the super stars and the community that they rely on for revenue. Major League Baseball took a major step in trying to address one of the major concerns of so few African American executives and players in the game.

The 1st Civil Rights Game in 2007. (Photo MLB)

In 2007 the first Civil Rights Game was played. Those first two games were held in AutoZone Park in Memphis, Tennessee. This was MLB’s way to “embrace baseball’s history of African American players”, also to generate interest for future black players after a survey revealed the percentage of black players in the league had dwindled over the past twelve years to just 8.4%. MLB also strongly supports the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) youth baseball program. This program established in 1989 out of South Central LA is presently in more than 200 cities. Their intent is to provide young people from underserved and diverse communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball and also focus on their scholastic achievements.

Thus we are proud to celebrate this Black History Month as we also celebrate our 30th year in sports stemming from an award to Ruben Sierra in 1990, the LatinoMVP Award that has now become the most prestigious and oldest award given to Latino Baseball Players and recognized by MLB (future articles on this). We have learned many lessons from our brothers and sisters in the African American community. Lessons that have fortified us to continue to promote our own agenda in advocating for the growing Latino community in sports, especially in baseball where we are greatly represented in.

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