Ring: ‘People are listening’: A conversation with baseball writer Shakeia Taylor

From Sheryl Ring at Beyond the Box Score on February 4, 2020:

Shakeia Taylor is one of today’s best baseball writers. Her prose can alternately move you to tears or laughter, depending on the subject and turn of phrase. Last year, she wrote this about Pumpsie Green, the first Black player on the Red Sox, the last team in the big leagues to integrate.

Green has lived his life reluctantly accepting his place in history. He was 13 years old when Jackie broke the color barrier, and he never expected, nor wanted, to be on the path started by him. During his time with the Red Sox, Pumpsie was isolated and alone. None of his teammates had a relationship with him outside of practice and games. In March of 1959 Boston Globe writer Milton Gross described the isolation: “From night to morning, the first Negro player to be brought to spring training by the Boston Red Sox ceases to be a member of the team he hopes to make as a shortstop. Segregation comes in a man’s heart, residing there like a burrowing worm. It comes when a man wakes alone, eats alone, goes to the movies every night alone because there’s nothing more for him to do and then, in Pumpsie Green’s own words, ‘I get a sandwich and a glass of milk and a book and I read myself to sleep.’”

Her retrospective about what C.C. Sabathia meant to the black community was stirring; her piece about trailblazing college baseball player Ashton Lansdell inspriring. From tying baseball to civil rights, to this moving tribute to the forgotten players of the Negro Leagues entitled simply “Speak their names,” Taylor has for years been doing work unparalleled in the industry.

Finally, Taylor is getting her due. This year, she was nominated for a SABR Analytics Conference Award for contemporary baseball commentary for a remarkable piece called “Loss, for Words,” in which she notes the inherent hypocrisy in MLB suspending White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson for an angry reaction to being on the receiving end of a beanball – without punishing the beanballer. The piece is notable both for its beautiful prose, typical of Taylor’s work, but also for its subject matter; Taylor takes on MLB’s misguided foray into attempting to govern when black players can use the n-word.

Read the full article here: https://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2020/2/4/21119050/people-are-listening-a-conversation-with-shakeia-taylor-baseball-writer-extraordinaire

Originally published: February 5, 2020. Last Updated: February 5, 2020.