Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in MLB in 1947. He was the first black superstar at a time when racism was still a major part of our society. In 1947 there were still white and black bathrooms and black people were treated like second class citizens. Jackie Robinson led a group of black baseball stars into what we today call our national pastime.
Today, the Tampa Bay Rays still do baseball the right way. They choose their players based on talent and what they will add to the Tampa Bay community. The Rays do not sway away from African-American players.The Devil Rays selected Carl Crawford in the second round (in the 1999 draft) and he became one of their greatest superstars. It is a shame he moved on to the Red Sox, but such is baseball. In 2002, the Rays selected center-fielder B J Upton as the second overall pick. In 2003, they selected outfielder Delmon Young as the number one overall pick. When they had the number one pick in 2007, the Rays selected David Price who is now one of their best starting pitchers. The Rays picked infielder Tim Beckham with the overall pick in 2008. He is playing in their minor league system and was selected to the All Stars Futures Game in 2011.
“We’re proud to have African-American players who are role models for the entire community, and proud of our efforts in renovating baseball fields throughout Tampa Bay so that even more kids can get into our game,” said Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. “What’s great about baseball is that for many decades now, it has been a meritocracy. Skin color doesn’t matter; how you act and how you perform do.”
In 1947, Jackie Robinson had to deal with prejudice because of the color of his skin. In the 1970’s Hank Aaron receive multiple death threats because a black player passed a white player as the top home-run hitter in MLB. In 2012, color no longer matters in baseball. What matters is the talent of the player and what he will give to the community that surrounds him.
During Black History month, it is great to be a fan of a team who chooses its players for how they perform and what kind of people they are. The Tampa Bay Rays bring a exciting product on to Tropicana Field. They choose young men who are both exciting players and good people. It does not matter what race they are, what matters is what they can bring to the team.
Tampa Bay Rays
LeRoy Coffie is a part-time vendor for the Rays. He goes to Rays games and watches all Rays news and replays on television. He is an avid fan who enjoys reading and researching about the Tampa Bay Rays and their young history.