You know, I love history. I love all kinds of history. For the sake of this article, however, let’s look at the history of sports; specifically, the sport of baseball.
Baseball is often referred to as ‘America’s favorite pastime’ and is extremely popular.
We just saw an exciting World Series, where the Chicago Cubs finally broke the “curse of the Billy goat” and won their first World Series title since 1908. It was so exciting to watch.
If you take a moment and look back on the entire history of baseball, you will find that after the Civil War ended in 1865, the sport of baseball became increasing popular, and during its infancy as a sport, it drew talented athletes from all races to learn and play the game.
Black athletes immediately became drawn to the game; playing on college teams, company teams and even in the military. Many of these Black athletes were so talented that they played alongside White athletes on integrated professional teams, which was unprecedented.
As has always been the history of this country, racism rears its ugly head, and the many integrated teams that had formed, which featured Black athletes such as Moses Fleetwood Walker and Bud Fowler, were abolished when the National Association of Baseball Players came together in December 1868, and voted unanimously to stop any club in their league from allowing any Black athletes from participating on any of their baseball clubs.
Not surprisingly, as has always been the resilient history of Black people in this country, Blacks refused to allow the racism of White people to stifle our progress or hinder our growth. Although Blacks were completely barred from being on professional baseball teams, we formed our own all-Black baseball teams and they became increasingly as popular, if not more popular, than the all-White professional baseball teams they were excluded from.
The first Black independent professional baseball team was formed in 1885, and was called the Cuban Giants. Several other independent professional baseball clubs operated, until Andrew “Rube” Foster, known as the father of Black baseball, organized the first Black professional baseball league in 1920, which we all know now as the Negro National League. As a result of Foster’s vision to start the Negro National League; the increased talent and interest in Black baseball; and of course because of the racism that led to the founding of the league, another league was formed in 1923, when Ed Bolden formed the Eastern Colored League.
Both the Negro National League and the Eastern Colored League remained popular for years, in spite of financial challenges, and continued to draw interest from all races, and provided strong economic development opportunities for many Black communities across the country. If it weren’t for the Brooklyn Dodgers taking the talented Jackie Robinson from the Kansas City Monarchs, to come and break the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1945, as well as the other talented Black athletes who followed in the footsteps of Robinson, the Negro Baseball Leagues would have continued to thrive and would never have folded.
Desegregation ruined a profitable Black business model that benefited off of the talent of Black athletes. The money and the talent were all kept in-house and Black people benefited as a result, and it drew the attention and envy of many Whites in this country.
As a race, Black people can learn a LOT from the Negro Baseball League and from sports…I tell you; especially as it relates to the things which impact our daily lives. Whenever a sports team or leagues finds itself failing to grow and experience success, they go back and look at their failed game plan, in order to see what didn’t work and what they need to do to get better. Black people, it’s time for us to do better and start our own Black teams so we can win in America.
In the 2004 American League Championship Series, fans of the New York Yankees used the sarcastic chant, “Who’s your daddy?” to make fun of then-Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martínez, after he made the statement, “They beat me. They’re that good right now. They’re that hot. I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy.”
If you know baseball, you know that the rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox is one of the most competitive rivalries in all of professional sports. When Martinez uttered those words, it gave unprecedented power to their rival Yankees and to the fans that support the Yankees. So much so, that in the 2009 World Series, Pedro Martinez found himself hearing the “Who’s your daddy” chants once again from the Yankees fans. This time, however, he was no longer with the Boston Red Sox, he was a starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies in Games 2 and 6 of the World Series versus the New York Yankees. Although Martinez changed uniforms, changed teammates and changed cities, he could not escape his past, even though externally things were different. The Yankees ended up besting him once again, as they were victorious in both of the games he pitched, including the Game 6 series clinching game. Same thing…different day.
I ask every member of the Black community, especially as it relates to the injustices and disparities we see in this country, “Who’s your daddy?”
Don’t ignore my question, because it is an important one, especially since people are so worried about Donald Trump being elected president and his choices for his cabinet and administration.
Honestly, Black people can learn a lot from Trump, just like they can learn a lot from sports. Black people can beat the system, and Black people can beat the establishment, but only if we stay true to who we are and come together as a unified team.
So what, we are competitive in the area of sports and entertainment, but are we winning in the areas of education; health; politics; governance; employment; entrepreneurship; wealth; finances; and changing the injustices in the justice system? Hell no! “Who’s your daddy?” for real?
Black people must take control of our lives and our future and we must start from within. We must educate our people that want to be educated. We must teach our people about local, state and federal laws and how they impact them. We must take a micro-approach to macro-problems, by taking issues on one at a time and supporting organizations that are advocating for and addressing those issues. We are in the game of life, struggling to have shared economic and social equality, and it seems as if many of us have pretty much given up and given in to the notion that others are superior than us and will beat us at everything. Remember the Negro Baseball Leagues. The odds were stacked against them, but they refused to allow their talent to go underutilized and ignored. Someone had the vision to start something that benefited the entire Black race, and it can be done again, if only we come together in unity and refuse to look to other people to solve our problems. We must take control of our personal lives, and we can’t run away from our issues, and yes I said OUR issues, thinking that going to the suburbs is going to stop you from being black in America. Being Black is a blessing, because God created us to be Black, and I love being Black. If God wanted us to be White, Asian or Hispanic, He would have done it. He uniquely and wonderfully made us to be the beautiful Black and resilient people we are; with tons of ability, skills and intelligence.
So you say you want to win Black people?
If you do, it’s beyond time to get on board the Black team and let’s start winning against those who believe they can defeat us. No longer will we be asked, “Who’s your daddy?” because we are winners and not subjected to anyone’s dominant oversight any longer.
Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey has been a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and Primetime Justice with Ashleigh Banfield. Jeffrey has a national daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney, and is a dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org