Hinkson: Finding the sweet spot: a black boy’s big baseball dreams

From SABR member Kamila Hinkson at The Hardball Times on October 4, 2019:

The number nine, when it comes to the game of baseball, seems to take on a kind of mystical significance. Consider this: during a game, nine players take the field to play nine innings on a diamond formed by points, or bases, that are all 90 feet apart. Toronto-based photographer Jalani Morgan considers his love affair with the sport as one of the most important relationships in his life. As a child, the lifelong Toronto Blue Jays fan fashioned himself after Devon White, a standout, Jamaican-American center fielder who played for the Jays in the 1990s. Morgan wore the number nine on his back while he was honing his craft on the fields of Scarborough as a child.

So when it came time to come up with a title for this exhibition, which he describes as a love letter to baseball, he decided to call it 9 Bats, a nod to the number that seems to underpin it all. The star of the story is Devon C. Jones, a fictional Hall of Fame baseball player named for Morgan’s childhood idol White, Morgan’s nephew Cordell (who plays Devon in the photos), and Adam Jones, a current Black major leaguer.

In 9 Bats, we meet Devon long before he makes it to The Show. He is a five-year-old boy, already brimming with confidence and the belief that he is capable of big things. He is practicing on an empty, inner-city baseball field, and it’s clear by his mannerisms — when’s the last time you saw a five-year-old calling his shots? — that he probably watches men play in the major leagues on TV just as much as he plays himself.

Read the full article here: https://tht.fangraphs.com/finding-the-sweet-spot-a-black-boys-big-baseball-dreams/

Originally published: October 8, 2019. Last Updated: October 8, 2019.