Dusty Baker would confront MLB racism head-on

Brian Tinsman
August 19, 2018 - 6:47 pm
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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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Dusty Baker made headlines across the baseball universe this weekend, giving candid takes to Ken Rosenthal and The Athletic (subscription required) on the sport he loves and the cities he has called home.

"Candid" is nothing new for Baker, but even this Q&A seemed like an unfiltered interview with a man who believes he may have filled out his last lineup card.

He calls his exit from Washington one of his deepest wounds, a feeling that has not changed in light of the team's 2018 struggles.

Baker has interesting takes on how he might handle Bryce Harper differently and what the city of Washington, D.C., meant to him. But perhaps his most interesting answer was how to handle the slew of old, racist and homophobic tweets that have surfaced from various MLB players.

The trend started during the All-Star Game when fans found cringe-worthy tweets from a younger Josh Hader. Sean Newcomb and Nats shortstop Trea Turner were next to be unmasked and shamed. Baker, who oversaw Turner's breakout rookie season, offered this advice to current managers:

"Well, I’d talk to 'em about it, find out why. What the circumstances were. How old were you at the time? Have you changed, or is that really you? See, some of these guys, it’s really them. Baseball is just a microcosm of society. Some guys change because they had never been around Latinos or blacks.

"A couple of players, I had to talk to 'em: 'I know you’ve never had a black manager. I know you’ve never had a black principal. Your daddy probably never had a black boss, depending upon which part of the country or what line of work you’re in.'

"I even had to ask a couple of players that I played with, 'Why are you so prejudiced?' A couple of ’em are my buddies now — big-time. They would say, 'I was raised that way.' I’d say: 'That’s fine. I bet you were. But now you’re old enough to make your own choice.' You hope some of these guys might have changed."

Baker, 69, has experienced racism throughout his career, both as a player and manager. He even discussed how after things fell apart in Chicago, members of federal law enforcement investigated racist hate mail that he received. He has played for and with people who harbor racist attitudes and has helped to reshape the minds of ignorant people. 

Even if 30 teams have decided that there is no room for Baker in the dugout, his is a perspective that would serve baseball well, perhaps now more than ever.

 

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