Major League Baseball’s average attendance has been on a gradual decline over the last couple of years. The economy obviously gets its share of the blame, but is it possible that since Major League Baseball has turned its back on the Black athlete, that is a factor?
Today, less than nine percent of MLB players on 2011 rosters are Black. Former Twins Star Torii Hunter, now with the Los Angeles Angels, has worked hard, as did Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield, to give back to his community in Minnesota, Texas and California and generate interest among Black youth in baseball.
“One of my charities is Little League Baseball Urban Initiative,” said Hunter. “I’m trying to get more urban kids, more African American kids, to play this game.”
When Hall-of-Famer Joe Morgan was playing with the Big Red Machine back in the day in Cincinnati, it was a different story. “I think we’ve waited too long to change it,” said Morgan.
“It was 27 percent [Black] when I played. You’re never going to be able to get back to that.
There are more Latin players and players from Asia now,” Morgan said. “You have to get players in the inner cities interested in baseball. Right now, everybody wants to be LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, and I don’t blame them.
“Baseball in the past, as always, made the mistake of pushing the team, and they never push the individual. Basketball and football are just the opposite. Baseball is going to have to do more of that to match the popularity with the kids.”
Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. 2011 Football Camp
No NFL owners lockout will stand in the way of reaching out to help young people pursue their dreams if they love the game of football and want to get better. All players who will be entering grades 7-12 are eligible to participate in the 2011 Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. Football Camp presented by the University of Phoenix.
The five-time Pro Bowl star of the Arizona Cardinals leads a strong, talented staff of top current and former NFL players plus top local high school coaches through three days of non-contact, intense, high-energy skills camp. It’s June 20-22 at Academy of Holy Angels High School in Richfield, Minnesota. Send your email inquiry to Larry@Larry-Fitzgerald.com, Info@Larry-Fitzgerald.com, or call 602-391-9624.
Sugar Ray Edwards wins TKO
The NFL lockout strikes again. Minnesota Vikings veteran defensive end Ray Edwards last Friday, May 20, started his pro boxing career with a four-round TKO over T.J. Gibson at Grand Casino Convention Center in Hinckley, Minnesota. Nearly 2,000 fans paid from $30 to $600 to see Grand Friday Night fights, their six fights featured on the card. Edwards was paid $5,000 and received 50 percent of gate receipts.
Edwards did a good job. He was in good shape, has quick hands, and is a powerful puncher. At least a dozen of Edwards’ current and former Vikings teammates were there to support his new career venture. Edwards is currently a Vikings free agent; however, with the lockout imposed by the NFL owners and the appeals courts, Edwards’ career, like the 2011 season, is in limbo.
Fitz Notes & Quotes
It took far too long in my view, but finally the great Sandy Stephens, the All-American quarterback of the University of Minnesota, was named to the 2011 class of the College Football Hall of Fame. He was the first Black All-American quarterback in the United States, leading the Gophers to the 1960 National Championship and back-to-back trips to the Rose Bowl in 1961-62.
It’s a shame Murray Warmath, his coach, the man who recruited him and took all that racist flack for letting Stephens play, died at age 90 earlier this year and never got to see the man who changed football recognized.
Tiger Woods recently withdrew after shooting a 42 after nine holes in the first round of the Players Championship because of leg pain. Woods has not won a golf tournament since 2009 and has dropped from number one to number eight in the world golf rankings.
Don’t worry about Tiger; he will be fine. He has won 71 PGA tournaments out of 262 that he completed. That’s a winning percentage of .262, still the best in history. His 14 Major wins is second only to Jack Nicklaus’ 18, and if he can get healthy again he is still two years ahead of Nicklaus’ pace when he won 18.
Despite not winning on the golf course last year, Tiger, according to Forbes Magazine, still earned $75 million last year from Nike and EA Sports, more than any other athlete.
There are not enough statues outside of Stapes Center to satisfy NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Jabbar scored nearly 40,000 points during his career, most all-time, and won five NBA Championships, four with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Currently, five statues of Magic Johnson, Chick Hearn, Jerry West, Wayne Gretsky and Oscar De La Hoya are outside the center honoring their career accomplishments. Jabbar has always had a reputation, fair or unfair, of being surly and not personable. He is also a Muslim, and during the early years of his career he was certainly like Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown — misunderstood.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, and on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm; he also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.