By Doni Glover, Publisher
I Am Black Wall Street
Unapologetically Black: Doni Glover Autobiography
Thursdays at Midnight on WEAA 88.9 FM
(BALTIMORE – July 9, 2022) – I am Baltimore all the way through. I bleed purple all day long. As for the “Birds”, of course, I have an Orioles hat … or two or three for that matter, but I also proudly rock a Yankees cap without hesitation. It’s just when it comes to my fundamental love for baseball, I love those Yankees, too. Let me explain.
One might ask, ‘Doni, if you love Baltimore so much, then how could you dare where a Yankees cap – let alone a jersey?’ To which, I’ll respond with one name: Reggie Jackson. Or, I might answer, “Game 6, 1977”. And then there’s the obvious response: “Mr. October!”
Yes, I love Baltimore – from the old City Hospital to the old Provident Hospital on Division Street where I was born. And of course, I grew up watching Jim Palmer, Al Bumbry, Dave McNally, Paul Blair, and Mark Belanger. I adored both Earl Weaver and Frank Robinson. And Brooks was my all-time favorite, probably! Lee May with his waving bat, Mike Cuellar on the mound … all on 33rd Street in the right-field bleachers! Those were the days.
And let’s not forget the Junior Orioles where “you sure do get a lot of stuff!”
Aww, man! Those were the good, ol’ days for real.
Despite the fact that Baltimore is the home of segregation going back to the days of Mayor J. Barry Mahool, Memorial Stadium was one of those few places where everybody could let their guard down and cheer for the home team.
The reason I wear the Yankees cap is that in 1977, the Orioles treated my favorite baseball player like the Maryland Democratic Party treats Black people: like a sidepiece. And in my book, that is very disrespectful.
Simply put, Reggie Jackson did not accomplish what he desired in negotiations with the Orioles, so he left. He put Baltimore’s funky attitude in the rear view mirror and went to New York where he was treated with the respect he deserved. Frank Robinson, too, was ready to leave until the Orioles found a home for him in Ashburton years earlier.
As a 12-year-old Black kid who played at James Mosher Baseball for 5 years by that time and who had the baddest baseball card collection in all of West Baltimore, I’ll never forget how it felt when the Orioles were too stubborn to bend. Reggie’s departure is a lifelong lesson we all need to learn: Know your value!
My adopted mother Diane Bell-McKoy told me that many moons ago: Know your value. Know your worth. Know what you bring to the table and be sure to not leave until you get it. Reggie’s departure was a reminder, too, of other greats, like Curt Flood – the man who sued American baseball … and won.
There might not be such a thing as free agency had it not been for Flood and the handful of people who saw the lawsuit through to the end. Flood damn near died waiting; but, he didn’t die. At least, not before seeing free agency become a reality for American baseball players. The NFL, I am reminded, followed suit the next year.
The point is that although I love baseball, because of the color of my skin – I have to view it through a different lens than my white counterparts.
Today, Black Americans are essentially priced out of the game. Where the Black American baseball players once dominated a healthy portion of the game, today, baseball in the Black community is few and far between.
The Blacks we see on major league teams today tend to come from Latin America. Why is that?
A bat for a little league player now costs hundreds of dollars. Why is that?
I don’t know those answers, but it is very clear that baseball is dying in the Black community. And given America’s sordid history, it is not unfathomable to imagine the reason or reasons have to do with race.
In any event, when Reggie did go to New York and masterfully and eloquently smacked those three home runs out of the park in one game, for me – and maybe others, it was a smack-back to racism, bullies, and disrespectful people who may have a little power but who, instead of using their positions to make the world a better place, they instead put their insidious time and energy into being total pricks.
That’s why I wear my Yankees cap any damn time I please, and unapologetically so!