A true lesson in correcting racist action

I heard this story yesterday while visiting with friends dating back to grade school. One of my friends was a catcher on a good college baseball team.

As they played an arch rival, my friend was catching an African-American pitcher, whom I have met as he was a good friend of my catching friend. That day, an opposing player got a single off the pitcher and, while standing on first base told my friend’s first baseman, “Tell that ‘N-word’ I will own him all day!”

The next time up at bat, the African-American pitcher dusted him back with two pitches (meaning he threw pitches closer to him than homeplate). The opposing coach came out to complain and the Black pitcher’s coach told him what was happening. The offensive batter’s coach told the pitcher’s coach “to throw at him two more times.” After the batter walked to first base after four balls, his coach removed him from the game and told him why. He told the pitcher’s coach after learning of the racial slur, “We are not going to put up with that s–t.”

While I am not condoning a pitcher throwing toward a batter, I repeat this story as it is an exemplar for people in leadership – a coach, minister, teacher, boss, mentor, representative, governor, senator, or president – they can make a huge difference in condemning racism. His quote is priceless, “we are not going to put up with that s–t.”

Just think if these people in leadership positions or, even the rest of us, said “that is not right” or “I do not agree with your saying that.” Or, just by actions, to show support to a target of racism. We need our leaders to be among our better angels. Yet, we must also walk the talk. If our so-called leaders fail to lead, we need to share our disappointment and ask them to do better.

18 thoughts on “A true lesson in correcting racist action

      • We all have such a responsibility but those folks chose a status where it becomes an obligation for being a “good” example! As you said, we need them.

    • Janis, I agree. I remember the opposing racist manager baiting Jackie Robinson with a stream of slurs. He only stopped when a white teammate who knew the racist manager told him to cool it. People are watching and will follow a leader’s lead. Keith

  1. I love this story … and you are so right … we need our leaders to actually BE leaders, leading the way in standing against ALL forms of bigotry, including racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and religious persecution.

    • Jill, so true. People occupying leadership positions need to act like leaders. Too many worry about keeping their jobs, rather than doing their jobs. Keith

    • Roger, it is a truism that the most intolerant among us demand the most tolerance. Many vote with their feet and lessen the number and length of encounters. Sometime, a polite, but firm push back is needed. It sounds like you have been forced to do this often. It becomes its own art form. Keith

  2. A timely post, Keith. And thanks for explaining the details to those of us who are baseball ignorant. We are each personally responsible for our actions and our inactions. There may be times to bite one’s tongue, but not at the expense of another human being.

    • Linda, you are welcome. People in positions of authority have a greater obligation to constructively remind thar abusive hate speech has no place. It is a duty our current president does not have the foggiest notion about, especially when he is a purveyor of such. Keith

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