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NY Times’ Rhoden thinks Rays can lure more black kids to baseball

Sport of the Times columnist William C. Rhoden thinks Tampa Bay Rays’ African-American outfielders B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford, and pitcher David Price can facilitate the floundering participation of blacks in baseball.

In years past, baseball was the sport of choice for African-Americans, but basketball and football are increasingly becoming more prominent among inner-city youth and blacks period. Crawford and Price spoke of programs that kept them interested in the sport of baseball, proving that the visibility of baseball within the inner city and the exposure to baseball can increase the number of African-Americans in the game.

“I figure if they did more stuff like that, it would be easy because that’s all we knew growing up,” Crawford said. “If we didn’t play baseball, it was the end of the world.”

But it isn’t that simple.

In his Oct.16 column, Rhoden quoted Crawford as saying that black kids face obstacles when pursuing baseball after they leave the youth programs.

“It gets kind of tough when you get to high school — it seems like, that’s where all the black kids get weeded out,” Crawford said. “It seems like they don’t want black kids to play in high school, like they do everything to try to run them off the field.”

More of a vested interest in the game, and more positive African-American role models within baseball may make the game more intriguing for the young. Price said the Atlanta Braves’ David Justice did, for him, exactly what Rhoden suggest he and his teammates have the possibility of doing for other kids.

“He was a superstar, everybody liked David Justice and he was black, so that’s how it all started,” Price said.


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