What do you get when you mix a Puerto Rican man, a guy from Arkansas, a Dominican named Vlad and a Veneuzuelan named Elvis? Answer – half the Texas Rangers starting lineup.
One thing I love about baseball is the diversity so many of the teams display and how it reflects the nature of our country. Baseball is such a quintessential American thing, and the fact it is played by people from all different ethnic groups just makes it all the more American to me. There’s something beautiful about all that multi-cultural teamwork.
This season, the Red Sox , for instance, consisted of white and black Americans, Asians, Latinos, and even a guy of Navajo background (when he wasn’t on the disabled list…).
Now, in this day and age, of course, of course, diversity isn’t such a huge deal. But when you look at the history of the Red Sox, the last team in baseball to integrate- the fact it isnt a big deal is a nice tribute to the progress we’ve made as a country since then. Diversity in baseball is a naturally ocurring phenomenon, too, now. We didn’t need Branch Rickey consciously deciding to mix things up.
Instead, the best players in the major leagues simply come from all different backgrounds. Back in the days of segregation, the best players didnt always get a chance to play on the best teams. Now, talent isnt held back by color lines.
Of course, it’s been fifty years since the integration of baseball, so I guess this isnt a big deal
But to me, it’s something I reflect on when I watch a game sometimes- especially this time of year when a season- and all the history it added to the books- is coming to its October end. I don’t see many other places in America where people pretty much of all backgrounds come together for a single purpose. Neighborhoods, religious groups, most other major American sports– things in America still have a tendency to be associated with one group or another.
And in a way, baseball, despite it’s on-field team composition, is a reflection of this reality as well as the ideals of e pluribus unum. When I looked around Fenway Park this season, the diversity in the stands didnt match the diversity of the team by any stretch. Nor does the make-up of front offices. And women in high positions in baseball management remain rare. There are articles every year about African American youths losing interest in the sport, about dust ups when one ethnic group feels another is getting better treatment.
But the reality of baseball’s diverse teams cannot be denied and I find it inspirational. In fact, along with the legends and eccentricities of the game, the fun of the tension built pitch per pitch, the ability of any player on any given night to break a record and get in the history books, the mix of players from all over is one reason I love baseball. For a few hours on some day or night, a team of ethincally, nationally, racially diverse people, yes, many of whom are overpaid and yes, many of whom will be returning to other home countries for the off-season, work together for a common goal.
And you know, a lot of the time, they look like they’re having fun doing it.