The Minnesota Twins annually promote their “Celebrate Diversity” campaign. But each year, it’s awfully hard to find a decent representation of Blacks and other people of color in the stands at their downtown Minneapolis ballpark. They virtually blend in so completely that they seem invisible as a result.
This year’s “Diversity Day” at the ballpark is July 7.
Among Marvin Banks’ responsibilities as an intern in the team’s diversity marketing department is to convince more Blacks and other people of color that the six-year-old stadium is a place for them as well.
The Milwaukee native admits that Blacks these days aren’t attracted to baseball as they are to other profiled sports. He played football and basketball as a youngster, despite the fact that his hometown was Henry Aaron’s first big-league hometown when he joined the then-Milwaukee (now Atlanta) Braves.
“Growing up, we didn’t think about [baseball],” he recalled as he spoke to the MSR during a recent Twins game.
Now 28 years old, Banks’ job is to convince more people who look like him to come to the baseball park and to connect with the baseball club in mutually benefitting ways both in the stands and in other initiatives.
“Some of the major duties are coming up with different events and programs to bring the community here, and to build relationships and build bonds,” said Banks. “One of the things we strive for is building better relationships.
“To bring more people of color to the stands” is a constant focus, he continued. “When you think about the Twins and the players on the roster…the biggest player on the team might be Torii Hunter, who is an African American. So how do we represent the players on the field to the fans in the crowd?”
The better question might be how the Twins represent themselves to the people not in the crowd. Banks quickly credited Diversity Marketing Director Miguel Ramos for his outward vision in this regard.
“North Minneapolis is just five to 10 minutes away. You have the stadium right here,” noted Banks. “It’s alright to bring people from the ‘hood.”
The Twins next week celebrate their annual “Diversity Day.” It would be nice to see more Blacks and other people of color join in that celebration.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.