I have to disclose I'm not much of a Civil rights activist, most likely because I'm a white guy who never suffered discrimination because of my skin color. Although I was an Italian/French/ Swiss guy who kept his tan year-round and who moved into an all Irish parish and neighborhood at a young age. I wasn't much bothered by the Dago, Wap, Guinea, Bomb Thrower, Mudball, Greaseball names I was called. I came from a rough patch of the City where I learned to punch noses when offended. After a while, it got exhausting for those who had to run home with nose bleeds and soon most of the taunting came to an end. Baseball season came around after that and my new found taunters welcomed a new teammate who could hit and field. Through the years that followed, I dated their sisters and was the best man in 6 of their weddings. So what I'm trying to say is, things got better.
Later in life, I came back in Country and traded my Marine Corps Utilities for the Uniform of a Chicago Police Officer. Right out of the Academy, I was assigned to a South Side police district just starting to undergo WHITE FLIGHT. The thing that stands out for me the most was the overwhelming number of white Chicago Cops. At one particular roll call, I remember we had only one Black Officer (Sherwood Williams) rest his soul. We always got along and frequently worked a beat car together known as "Salt and Pepper." Sherwood always came into the roll call room with a big smile and a hardy SHOUT OF "WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE." His meaning was clear, why only one person of color working in a rapidly changing minority neighborhood. Why indeed. If ever there was an occupying force the CPD was it in the late 60s and early seventies.
Through the efforts of the African American Police League, the city was forced by the Federal Courts to begin hiring and promoting minorities by percentages. The first wave for about 10 years was a 60-40 ratio. The howls were loud and long, cries of unfair and reverse discrimination, affirmative action left a bitter taste in some and a relief to many others who really were left out, in both hiring and promotions. In the end, in my personal opinion, it changed the face of America because the Chicago court case was copied all across America and slowly diversity took hold and Sherwoods "WHATS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE ", FADED EVER SO SLOWLY. The answer became "nothing", it looks perfectly natural in a Country that touts diversity.
Which brings me to this year's World Series, when Sherwood's words came to life when I saw the introduction of the 7 man umpiring crew for a game 7 of the world series. "WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE." Every single umpire and replay official were 'WHITE GUYS." (See the feature photo accompanying this article ). Paul Sullivan one of the Tribunes sportswriters had just penned an article about Major League Baseball being in danger of losing a generation of fans.
He goes on to report that this year's average attendance was at its lowest point since 2003. He listed several reasons, slowness of the game, failure of owners to sign star players, teams tanking and not trying to compete financially by signing expensive talent and many other valid points. It would seem to be that a billion-dollar industry such a Major League Baseball showcasing its premiere game to the world watching would be sensitive enough to be aware of that word DIVERSITY. Yet, there they were, not one minority represented in that umpiring crew.
As the great American past time fades into the great American ass-time, the baseball moguls are crying about their game being ignored by at least one generation. Their Marquee event the 7th game of the world series viewed all over the world thumbs its nose at the great melting pot we so dearly like to point out to the rest of the world. I guess diversity is for everyone else. Maybe just maybe Boys, your lack of even a hint of diversity might be the biggest reason why you are losing fans by the thousands
In my opinion, Major League Baseball is fumbling the ball, or in their game, making an error. Remember Jackie Robinson, I'm betting you don't with the exception of one day a year where all players wear number #42. Jackie was more than a great player, he sent a message that it seems you have forgotten. Of course, it could be that people of color are not interested in the Umpiring profession, Nah, let's face it, it's stupidity. There are 105 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, that's enough time to wise up. Heres hoping. I'm' not holding my breath. Thanks, Sherwood, this ones for you. Hail to the Chief.
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