Seventy years after Jackie Robinson integrated Major League Baseball, the game has yet to embrace black culture.
By Lawrence Ware
… A 1960 piece in Sports Illustrated noted that Latin players were considered “hot dogs.” The definition, according to SI: a “player who calls attention to himself, either through his actions or his attitude.” The magazine also quoted an anonymous white player. “You automatically assume any Latin is a hot dog until he proves himself otherwise,” he said.
Nearly 60 years later, that belief is still all too prevalent. In April 2015, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig told the Los Angeles Times that he was going to try to stop flipping his bat into the air after he hit home runs. “I want to show American baseball that I’m not disrespecting the game,” he said. Yet, the Cuban star also added, “If it’s a big home run or if I’m frustrated because I couldn’t connect in my previous at-bats or if I drive in important runs for my team, I might do it. You never know.”
It’s painful to hear a star player with a buoyant personality declare that he’ll try to fit in by curtailing his natural exuberance. Why did Puig feel that kind of pressure? Because white players like Bud Norris, who now pitches for the Los Angeles Angels, say things like this: “We’re opening this game to everyone that can play. However, if you’re going to come into our country and make our American dollars, you need to respect a game that has been here for over a hundred years.” In other words, you can play in our country, but you must adhere to our (largely white) expectations. When you hit a home run, lay your bat down gently. Smile if you want … but don’t show any teeth.
It is a form of cultural colonialization to allow a player to display his athletic brilliance but to prevent him from bringing his culture to the game. …
Jackie Robinson may have integrated Major League Baseball 70 years ago, but it was, and continues to be, a white man’s sport.
Here’s a picture of Yasiel Puig standing at home plate celebrating what he expected to be his home run in the 2013 playoffs, but the ball didn’t actually go over the fence:
Strange stuff like this happens to Puig all the time.
Last year the Dodgers demoted Puig, who appeared to be on the cusp of superstardom in 2013-14, to the minors for a month to teach him a lesson about maturity. So far this season he’s pounding the ball, so maybe they finally got through to the big Cuban.