Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Interesting Perspective

Jim Bouton, a former pitcher for the New York Yankees, Seattle Pilots, Houston Astros, Chicago White Sox and Atlanta Braves. He became famous for the book he wrote while with the Yankees entitled, Ball Four.

He has an interesting perspective that I'd like to share (as told in Willie Mays' Autobiography by James Hirsch)...

He said Mays's skin color was different than everyone else, and that difference thrilled us."
Bouton's exposure to race came mainly through baseball, where he noticed that few blacks sat on the bench. "They were the better players," Bouton says, "And Willie was the best."

"There were a lot of kids like me," he says, "who learned to love him before anybody told us we couldn't."

I too felt that way as a youngster (who saw his first major league ball games at the windy, not-yet enclosed Candlestick Park).

I remember collecting baseball cards and memorizing everything about the player from the information on the back of the card. And I remember thinking the black guys were the ones I liked the best.

I don't recall all of the bigotry by the "grown-ups" but I do know that some arguments, however futile, were over skin color and I always studied up on the ballplayers so if I was ever thrown into the argument I could backup my answer with facts. And for the most part, I was seen as some "know-it-all" punk, fat kid (and was told as much) because the conversation usually ended when I was allowed the opportunity to hit 'em with the facts (they selectively forgot for the sake of arguing.)

A Bill Clinton quote further expresses my feelings towards the "grown-ups," : "When you see someone doing something you admire," like Willie Mays- "the image of that makes a mockery of all forms of bigotry."

It works both ways.

Said Willie Mays, '... because it always seemed to me that when the fans cheered, I did better.'" "I believe this is true of every ballplayer who's every lived." To which the author added, Mays responded to carrots, not sticks.

Kevin J. Marquez (the know-it-all, punk, fat kid)