Recent Articles

Cuban-born baseball retirees regret Black Americans’ lack of interest








Julio Becquer and Tony Oliva, both Cuban-born, both migrated to the United States to play baseball. But if asked, both men quickly express their disappointment that the game they love has not been more embraced by today’s youth, especially by domestic-born Blacks. According to the 2014 Racial and Gender Report Card by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, the number of Blacks on major league rosters has been steady dwindling since the 1990s. On Opening Day 2014, 8.2 percent of players who identified themselves as Black were on the teams’ 25-man rosters. The Minnesota Twins had one — Aaron Hicks. Continue Reading →

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Another Black athlete gets posthumous recognition

William Henry “Bill” Binga until last weekend was resting in an unmarked grave for over 60 years. Now, that is no longer the case. Binga (1869-1950) played professional baseball before he and players like him were banned solely because of their skin color. As a result, he played barnstorm ball throughout the Upper Midwest and on teams based in Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit. He also played on the Minneapolis Keystones (1908) and the St. Continue Reading →

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Annual reporting on Twins’ lack of diversity grows tiresome

I’ve held off long enough, but it’s that time again to write about the results of Dr. Richard Lapchick’s annual report cards on the pro leagues’ diversity efforts. The other print media use the fewest possible words to mention these Racial and Gender Report Cards (RGRC) on their sports pages because it doesn’t matter to them if diversity is achieved or not, especially when their own workplaces aren’t that diverse. It’s not like I don’t want to, but annual reporting on the snail-like progress the local pro teams have made on diversity over the years hasn’t much changed. In the Twin Cities, the diversity axiom isn’t how some things change and some remain the same, but rather nothing changes but the year. It’s like the teacher who practices social promotion every year — although the student doesn’t deserve it, they have another class coming in. Continue Reading →

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Twins outfielder decides to ‘swing one way’

It’s been over a week now since Aaron Hicks, the second-year Minnesota Twins centerfielder, quit being a switch hitter to being only a right-handed hitter. What brought him to that decision? Poor front-office decision-making may have resulted in rushing up the young man to the big leagues too soon last season. Hicks should have perfected his batting skills in the minors; instead, he struggled last season and was sent back down. This year thus far, Hicks is again struggling, leading him to stop his Judy Collins “Both Sides Now” batting and stick to one side only, a decision that caught his manager totally by surprise. Continue Reading →

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‘Deceptive speed’ gives outfielder a defensive edge








There are approximately 100 African American and other student-athletes of color this school year at the University of Minnesota. In an occasional series throughout the 2013-14 school and sports year, the MSR will highlight these players. This week: Gopher outfielder Jordan Smith


If there were such an award, Jordan Smith would be the hands-down winner this season for MVP — most versatile player honors — on the Gophers baseball team. The redshirt freshman from Eden Prairie, Minnesota has played all three outfield positions. “He’s an outstanding defender out there,” assessed Coach John Anderson. Continue Reading →

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Honoring Jackie in 2014

Tuesday is Jackie Robinson Day in Major League Baseball. Every player on all 30 MLB clubs will wear the number 42 on their backs — the same number Robinson wore when he broke in with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1948; the same number every club permanently retired save for one day a year.  

“I’ve always known the significance of that number,” admits Minnesota Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks, the team’s only U.S.-born Black player, “definitely for me being a Black player.”


Hicks ranks Robinson in the same trailblazing light as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. “They are heroes, and he is right up there with them,” believes the second-year centerfielder. “He was the guy who took a lot of crap and handled it the right way. Continue Reading →

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Ever wonder how much college sports cost? Here are more numbers.



All 23 University of Minnesota sports teams generate revenue, but only football, men’s basketball and men’s hockey in the last two years have been profitable, according to reports supplied by the school. Each sport’s total operating revenue includes but is not limited to: ticket sales, state or other governmental support, NCAA/conference distributions, broadcast rights, program ad concessions sales, parking, licensing and advertisements, and endowment and investment income.  


After expenses, football ($32 million) in 2012 and 2013 made nearly twice what men’s hoops earned ($18.6 million) and thrice what men’s puck ($9.5 million) made.  The other Gopher programs, however, spent at least twice as much as they reportedly made:

Women’s hockey — $1.6 million in revenues; expenses — $2.4 million

Women’s basketball — $1.2 million in revenues; expenses — $5.1 million

Rowing — $874,000 revenues; expenses — $2.2 million

Women’s track/cross-country — $837,000 revenues; expenses — $2.4 million

Baseball — $767,000 revenues; expenses — $2.2 million

Women’s swimming & diving — $648,000 revenues; expenses — $1.7 million

Women’s gymnastics — $418,000 revenues; expenses — $1.3 million

Wrestling — $550,000 revenues; expenses — $1.8 million

Volleyball — $404,000 revenues; expenses — $2.3 million

Softball — $359,000 revenues; expenses — $1.7 million

Women’s tennis — $307,000 revenues; expenses — $975,000

Men’s swimming & diving — $294,000 revenues; expenses — $1.5 million

Men’s golf — $252,000 revenues; expenses — $1 million

Women’s golf — $232,000 revenues; expenses — $885,000

Soccer — $308,000 revenues; expenses — $1.5 million

Men’s gymnastics — $182,000 revenues; expenses — $1 million

Men’s tennis — $162,000 revenues; expenses — $896,000

Men’s track and field/cross-country — $377,000 revenues; expenses — $2.2 million


To those opponents who profess college sports spend too much and bring in little to show for it, these numbers support their argument. But for those who argue that women’s non-revenue sports (all but basketball and volleyball) fall in this category as loss leaders, their male non-revenue counterparts are just as much ‘losers.’

Finally, in the final analysis, running a Division I sports program is expensive. Based on the aforementioned figures, we now know just how much. Continue Reading →

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Baseball offers a third option for athletic success



Baseball has existed for over a century, but among inner-city children it’s almost non-existent. Why isn’t this sport as popular as football and basketball, especially given baseball’s potential to offer the successful player both a very lavish lifestyle as well as a long playing career? Frank White, the Minnesota Twins Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) coordinator, believes the love of sports, no matter what type of sport, often is nurtured at home. He surmised that for many inner-city children, their parents probably grew up around basketball and football, so that it is probably what they will talk about or watch on television during family time. “Most children will be interested in what they are exposed to in their homes,” he pointed out. Continue Reading →

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Walter Bond credits Clem Haskins with making men of boys


Before he became a big-time motivational speaker, Walter Bond played big-time hoops at Minnesota (1988-91) and played three NBA seasons. After an appearance last week at the North Community YMCA as the featured speaker at its business speaker series (Bond’s remarks are featured on the Metro page of this week’s edition), he told the MSR, “Clem Haskins was a phenomenal leader — he was the one who told me to be a motivational speaker. The one thing that I respect and love him for is [that] at age 18 he had an amazing impact on me not only as an athlete but also as a person. He turned me from a little boy to a man. He could do things that probably my dad couldn’t do because he had a different role.”

After he retired from basketball, Bond said he tried entering the business world but was routinely turned away. Continue Reading →

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