Los Angeles Angels' African-American superstar center fielder Torii Hunter detonated the first of the 2010 baseball season's field atomic bomb when he claimed that Dominican players are not really black.
According to Hunter, Dominicans are "impostors"
Here are Hunter's exact words:
"'People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they're African American. They're not us. They're impostors.
"'Even people I know come up and say, "Hey, what color is Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a black player?" I say, 'Come on, he's Dominican. He's not black.'
"'As African-American players, we have a theory that baseball can go get an imitator and pass them off as us. It's like they had to get some kind of dark faces, so they go to the Dominican or Venezuela because you can get them cheaper. It's like, "Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?"
"'I'm telling you, it's sad. ' "[Hunter talks about race, Associated Press, March 11, 2010]
Hunter's credentials spared him. As a three-time All-Star Hunter, 34, has won nine Gold Gloves and is a career.274 hitter with 235 home runs. His Torii Hunter Project assists children in athletics, education and overall wellness.
Nevertheless, Hunter's remarks triggered a furious outcry from talk radio and the ESPN talking heads that centered mostly on what they perceived as his racism and unenlightened view of how blacks arrived in the West from Africa. [VDARE.com note: Black immigrant ballplayers from the Dominican or Venezuela are of African descent, but due to Spanish colonial slavery, not American. What Hunter means is that they aren't part of the American black community—the people Abraham Lincoln freed, Martin Luther King defended, or Jackie Robinson desegregated. Of course, this is also true of the President of the United States. ]
Hunter's main point, however, is the same one that I have been making on VDARE.COM for years: Major League Baseball largely ignores American players, both black and white, because it can sign foreign-born players for less money.
In 2006, for example, the Chicago White Sox told its fans that Santo Domingo's Faustino de los Santos is the greatest fire baller since Cleveland Indian Hall of Famer Bob Feller. Who among the casual fans is really to know?
The White Sox subsequently cooled off on de los Santos and traded him to the Oakland A's where he remains in the low minor leagues. Now an old-for-baseball 24 and after career threatening "Tommy John surgery", his future is unclear.
What's certain, though, is that during the four years since the Chicago signed de los Santos, neither the White Sox nor the A's spent much time or money developing the local talent in its backyard.
It's not as if there aren't any prospects in Oakland or Chicago. In past seasons, Oakland has produced two Most Valuable Players, both black: Jimmy Rollins and Frank Robinson. From Chicago came two more, both white: Boston Red Sox outfielder Fred Lynn and Detroit Tiger pitcher Denny McLain
That gets back to the point Hunter tried, crudely and unsuccessfully, to make.
The debate isn't about whether Guerrero is black or Dominican or a black Dominican. The argument is whether American kids, black and white, are ignored and therefore ultimately screwed by baseball owners and league officials.
On this point there is increasingly more agreement among impartial baseball observers that yes, they are.
Hunter's comments came during a five-part series about how baseball can better itself hosted by USA Today and moderated by reporter Bob Nightengale.
Among the topics: improving umpiring, keeping the World Series from being played in November, eliminating drugs and reformatting the World Baseball Classic
But the day devoted to developing more American talent was the most important.
On last year's opening-day rosters, baseball's African-American population was only 8 percent, compared with 28 percent for foreign players. For concerned blacks like Hunter, the issue is at a crisis level.
But as Hunter also pointed out, as foreign-born players increase it is not only blacks who are displaced but also whites.
As more becomes known about the growing shortage of American players, MLB points increasingly to its RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities) program which has baseball academies in Compton, CA. and Houston with additional sites approved for Miami and New Orleans.
But in truth, RBI is more about keeping kids—boys and girls—off the streets than it is about teaching baseball skills to real prospects.
Much more time and money is spent developing the foreign player market than the urban American market. Since 2004, baseball franchises have paid out nearly $250 million to international prospects.
The conclusion reached by the eight man USA Today panel is encouraging, however. Amazingly, it agrees with me that the emphasis on foreign player development is misplaced.
Two scouts (Chicago Cubs' Gary Hughes, Cincinnati Reds' "J" Hughes), two players LaTroy Hawkins and Hunter), the Reds' manager (Dusty Baker), an umpire (Steve Palermo) and an agent (Scott Boras) suggested: "Scaling back in foreign markets to increase investment at home."
According to Boras, baseball spends $8 million to $12 million a team to scout and develop players. Yet the committee's consensus is that the same amount would produce more productive results if spent in the U.S. on American prospects.
Said Boras: "The bottom line is that your money is better spent here. If you add up the money spent in the Asian markets in the last decade and took that and set up a true inner-cities system — using former players and an administrative body sponsored by baseball — we would reach more people."
Boras concludes: "We will lose this game if the best athletes are not playing baseball."
I'd amend Boras' remark to read: "We will lose this game if the best American athletes are not playing baseball." .[Panel Part III: Efforts to develop black talent in USA insufficient, By Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, March 9, 2010]
To non-sports fans, I remind you that my column is not just about baseball but also about American jobs.
Every visa that is issued to a foreign-born player means that he will come to the U.S. and rarely go home. Whether he makes it to the big leagues or not, he'll eventually be in the job market competing with an American—maybe you or your children
If, on the other hand an American kid signs a contract with a major league team his long-term job opportunities, in or outside of baseball, soar. Nothing beats an association with professional sports to enhance a resume.
A closing note: it's very satisfying to see that the mainstream is finally catching up to VDARE.COM
I wrote my first column about greedy owners ignoring American baseball talent to beef up their bottom lines five years ago.
Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.