Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Baseball Blackout

Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 10:10 PM

Have you noticed that the A's don't look a lot like Oakland? The number of African Americans on the field and in the stands, or lining up to get Stomper's autograph has declined for a generation. And according to one source if the current state budget crisis plays as it's pitched, we may look back on today as a golden age for African American participation in the national pastime

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According to the folks at the blog Catfish Stew, the A's aren't the only ones who will suffer the consequences. Boasting acres of diamonds, a recent mayor who played in the Coast League, and a conga line of star players; Alameda has provided support for big leaguers, bush leaguers and little leaguers for over five decades, but the island city is about to step in to a high hard one.

The state of prep baseball has been precarious for years. Never as glam as high school football (Friday Night Lights) or basketball (White Shadow) or high school musicals (High School Musical); in our poorer schools, few students seem to be growing up as students of the game. The latest bit of chin music may be a knockout blow.

The inevitable result will be that only those with legacy support, or the means to afford to play for pay, or who have the teachers who can inspire and train them will be drawn to a game that links history and continuity so well. If we can't count on trickle-down inspiration from the big league team and we can't count on the state to fund grassroots support at the high school level, baseball will belong to the well-to-do, which will make it ironically a much poorer sport.— Kibby Kleiman

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