CSotD: The Umpires Strike Back

Ed Hall starts us off with this analysis of how Major League Baseball has learned to be fair to Black players and, ultimately, to Black people.

But now the umpires are conferring, arguing over what seemed like a clear shot over the centerfield fence.


To repeat an astonishing 1921 cartoon from the other day, the inherent racism in society was once so embedded that its most outrageous elements — including a carnival game in which you threw balls at a Black person’s head — were accepted as part of the scenery, and the joke here was that a desperate team considered signing a little kid, not that the Negro League players weren’t even considered.

That was assumed.


Times change, but the question is, how much?

On this date in 1968, I saw Bobby Kennedy speak. It was just a few days after LBJ had stepped down, though the Democratic field had already been opening up, and the Indiana Primary was next on the docket.

From South Bend, Bobby flew off, IIRC, to Muncie and then to Indianapolis that evening, where he made what may have been the most important speech of his life, announcing to a crowd the news that Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated, and convincing them to take the horror with grief-stricken peace.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we’ve had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.

The importance of his words may be measured in the chaos that enveloped other cities, including Chicago, where Mayor Richard Daley famously said that police should “shoot to kill” destructive rioters and “shoot to maim” looters.

The National Democratic Convention followed a few months later, and Fred Hampton was murdered by Chicago police in 1969.

And Mayor Daley was re-elected two more times.

Which makes this an oddly ambivalent date on which to portray being awakened to the needs of other people, of minorities in particular, as a bad thing, but here’s Bob Gorrell (Creators)‘s statement, condemning MLB’s decision to use their influence to support voting rights.


Nor is he alone, as Chip Bok (Creators) wants sports to continue to amuse us, and to ignore the impact of political decisions on its players, its fans and the country.


Clay Jones dissents, and portrays MLB’s decision as a spectacular defeat for the haters and for those who think of “woke” people as uppity and of “woke” corporations as being like those outside agitators who used to come South and lecture people on civil rights.


Meanwhile, Gov. Kemp’s response remains strikingly similar to what we heard in the days of Dr. King, though Chris Britt (Creators)  and several Georgia politicians aren’t having any.

Still, we’re heard this song before:

Baseball today, baseball tomorrow, baseball forever.

Or maybe not.

I won’t bother to list everything the people who whine over “cancel culture” have canceled, but you can start with the Dixie Chix, and bear in mind that they not only hated Colin Kaepernick but declared a boycott of the NFL just as they’re now declaring a boycott of baseball.

I suppose we could dismiss them as old tired cranks, but let’s not forget that, not only did voters give Presidential Candidate George Wallace victory in five states, including Georgia, seven months after Martin Luther King Jr’s murder, but that, 48 years after the assassination, we elected Donald Trump.

There will be a lot of hot air expended in the days, and weeks, and months to come.

Granted, the law has been misinterpreted on both sides, but, if it’s not, in the end, as openly toxic as early drafts had suggested, neither is it as innocent as its supporters claim, and it remains an attempt to restrict voting.

Nor is Georgia the only state seeking to lower voting rates.

The whatabouts and straw men and ad hominems and deliberate misinterpretations will be flying and it’s gonna be a good time to be wise as serpents, and to at least try to be gentle as doves.

Gentle, but not silent, which implies consent.

I’ll end today by turning things over to Tim Miller at the Bulwark, with a salute to this concise snippet from his piece:

For me, given the nature of the threat from the anti-democratic GOP, the best path forward is to stick to the strong, truthful case that can be made against the bill based on the GOP’s ill intent, rather than trying to make the actual legislation something it’s not.

Happy Easter, and sorry all that rising from the dead couldn’t seem a little more triumphant, but Lord knows we’re trying.

At least, I hope he knows. I realize it’s not always obvious.


7 thoughts on “CSotD: The Umpires Strike Back

  1. Riverview amusement park in Chicago still had a booth in 1963 where people would pay to throw a ball at a black man’s head.

  2. I don’t know what’s more appalling — that they would have one that late in time, or that it wouldn’t go out of business for lack of clientele.

  3. Regarding Britt’s cartoon about a team named the Georgia Racists, it’s interesting to note that before MLB put a team in Atlanta the minor league team was called the Atlanta Crackers, which by today’s standards is considered a derogatory term for ignorant whites. I’m not sure how the contemporary use of the term was viewed. Believe it or not, the Negro League teams of the same era were called the Atlanta Black Crackers.

    P.S. The joke in Wellington’s “The Worst is Yet to Come” is that the man is about to be pelted by a professional pitcher.

  4. Ronda ROMNEY McDaniel has cancelled her own heritage, so it should be no big deal that she isn’t watching baseball.

  5. The person throwing the ball is dressed in children’s clothing — knickers and a cap, and barely comes up to the height of the stall. The two ball players on their way into Spring Training are noticing his skill at a carnival game.

    The joke is that the team is so desperate for pitching that they’re going to sign up a little kid because he can at least hit what he’s aiming at.

  6. But that interpretation doesn’t fit very well with the rest of the run of “And the Worst is Yet To Come”. Nor with the title.

    The little kid throwing is not apt to be throwing very hard. Certainly not as hard as a professional pitcher. So while being hit in the head by a baseball thrown by a little kid is not pleasant, being hit in the head by a professional pitcher will be worse.

    That was the setup throughout Wellington’s strip. We’re shown a character enduring some misfortune. And we see (though the victim doesn’t) that it’s about to get much worse.

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