Roberson: Beyond Jackie: How Dee Gordon is bringing the black ballplayer

From Matthew Roberson at Lookout Landing on April 3, 2018:

In the midst of an electric Spring Training, in which he introduced himself to Mariner fans with a .303/.333/.545 slash line and a trio of home runs, Devaris “Dee” Gordon stood out for many reasons. His blazing speed, infectious smile, and surprising power made him a singular presence in Peoria. Unfortunately, something else also caused him to stick out.

As he said to Aaron Levine of Q13 Sports, “I’m the only black guy in camp. That speaks volumes.” The number of black players in MLB is dwindling – plummeting, in fact, to the point that having even one black player on the squad is more than a few other teams can say.

In this Spring Training chat, Gordon offered some ideas about the lack of African-American representation, stating that the equipment needed to play baseball “costs too much. Every bat costs $500. Gloves are $400. Everyone’s parents aren’t able to afford that. It’s my job to help any way possible.”

It’s impossible to know the tone, rhythm, and depth of this conversation, distilled into less than 280 characters. To be sure, it is an important, pressing, and sometimes heavy conversation to have. It is a conversation that can push the game forward. It is a conversation that carries weight. It is a conversation ostensibly about black people and baseball, but also a conversation largely about class, culture, and access.

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Originally published: April 3, 2018. Last Updated: April 3, 2018.