The Minnesota Twins last week kicked off the team’s apparent year-long promotional blitz on their hosting of the 2014 All-Star Game. It is their third time being hosts at three different venues: the old and gone Metropolitan Stadium (1965); the old and soon-to-be gone Metrodome (1985); and, a year from now, at their present edifice located on the North Minneapolis-downtown border.
“We dreamed of hosting this incredible event,” said Twins Owner Jim Polhad in a team release.
After reading this and the media-distributed fact sheet, my curiosity got the best of me and I came up with some Roberta Flack-Donny Hathaway-Billy Preston-type questions:
Where were the Blacks then, and will there be any Blacks next year? Willie Mays and Bob Gibson were among 12 Blacks who played here in the 1965 game, and seven Blacks played in the 1985 dome game. How many Blacks will be here next year?
Approximately 2,000 media (writers, broadcasters and photographers) covered the 2012 game in Kansas City. If a similar number converged here next year, how many of these media types will be Black?
Major League Baseball claims the All-Star Games’ economic impact on the host city has been as high as $148 million (New York, 2008) and as low as almost $38 million (Cleveland, 1997). It is anticipated that a green windfall will hit the Cities next summer, but will any of it blow northward over the 7th Street bridge to the city’s Black community?
MLB also hosts a bunch of community-type events designed to leave behind some sort of “lasting legacy.” As Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat boasted in the aforementioned press release, “Not only will we collectively reap the incredible economic benefits of hosting this jewel event,” but “the associated charitable contributions will also greatly benefit our community as a whole.”
Again we ask what projects will “greatly benefit” Blacks here? Right now it’s only some snazzy logo, which leads this columnist to speculate that this so-called “jewel event,” like other high-profile sporting events, will be nothing but a hollow shell for the Black community.
After another miserable plate performance in an August 1 loss to Kansas City, outfielder Aaron Hicks, who was batting under .200, was demoted to triple-A Rochester, the Twins’ top farm club. As a result, the Twins are left with a single Black player, Dominican Republic native Samuel Dedunothere; there’s not a single U.S.-born Black player or coach on the Twins roster now.
Meanwhile, last weekend’s opponent Houston boasts a Black manager, one coach of color, three Black players, and five of 28 front-office personnel who are Black.
The 2013 Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) World Series is underway as eight junior (ages 13-15) and eight senior (ages 16-18) teams began pool play on Monday throughout the area to earn their way to the Twins ballpark, where the championship games will be played on Thursday.
These youth teams include two each from Chicago, Detroit, Harrisburg, Pa., Venice, Calif., and the Dominican Republic along with Tampa, Miami, New Orleans, Pawtucket, R.I., Jackson, Miss., and Harlem, New York, which is playing in the annual international championship tournament for the first time since 1997.
This is the third consecutive year the Twins have hosted the RBI World Series, with the MSR providing nearly exclusive coverage in as many years.
Next week, eight softball teams will be in town to do the same as their baseball counterparts, except their championship game will be played on the University of Minnesota campus.
See “Sports Odds and Ends” on the MSR web edition for WNBA President Laurel Richie’s remarks to the Minnesota media last weekend.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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