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Torii Hunter: black Dominican players are "imposters"

Mar 10, 2010, 7:57 AM EDT

USA Today continues its five-part round table on improving the game,
and today they take on a monster: race.  Torii Hunter throws a big
freakin’ bomb
:
 

Fans look down from their seats onto the
baseball field, see dark-colored skin and might assume they are
African-American players. But increasingly, the players instead hail
from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico or Venezuela.

“People
see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they’re African
American,” Los Angeles Angels center fielder Torii Hunter says.
“They’re not us. They’re impostors.

“Even people I know come up
and say, ‘Hey, what color is Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a black player?’
I say, ‘Come on, he’s Dominican. He’s not black.’ “

“As
African-American players, we have a theory
that baseball can go get an imitator and pass them off as us,” Hunter
says. “It’s like they had to get some kind of dark faces, so they go to
the Dominican or Venezuela because you can get them cheaper. It’s like,
‘Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have
Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a
Dominican guy for a bag of chips?’

“I’m telling you, it’s sad.”

I
have great respect for Torii, and I wouldn’t deign to know more about
race and baseball than he does, but this statement is 100%
unadulterated bullcrap.  I covered this topic three years ago, and it
was the first post I ever wrote that gained any attention by anyone.
The point still stands, however, so I’ll more or less quote myself:

The notion that the number of U.S.-born black players in
Major League Baseball has declined is manifest.  There are any number
of reasons for this, not the least of which is that U.S.-born black
kids are more likely to play
basketball or football than baseball these days. As a baseball nut this
bugs me because there are likely a dozen black kids playing second
string safety in the SEC or someplace who could have
been ten times the ballplayer than many of the guys on your team’s
roster. Indeed, if only a handful of black athletes chose to
play baseball instead of basketball or football guys like Mike Jacobs
would be working at a Jiffy Lube right now, and no one would be upset
about that except for some Jiffy Lube manager.  I’m greedy: I want all
the best athletes playing baseball and I’m bummed when they don’t.

But this notion that today’s diversity in baseball is some sort of sham
and that black Dominican players are “impostors” is beyond repugnant.
No, they’re not from the U.S., but if Jose Reyes and Vladimir Guerrero
aren’t black, I’m not sure anyone is.

The fact that more and more of
baseball’s black players happen to come from a couple hundred miles
south of an artificial political border doesn’t mean that there is no
one around to receive the torch passed down from Jackie Robinson, nor
does the fact that baseball has spent millions to develop Latin
American talent mean that the sport has turned its back on U.S.-born
blacks.  And while, like Hunter, I’d like to see more U.S. blacks
playing the game, to suggest, as he does, that Major League Baseball
has some plot to overlook them in favor of international players is
plain dumb. If anything baseball would love to have it the opposite
way. After all, U.S.-born blacks are subject to the draft and can be
paid peanuts for years. Dominican or Venezuelan players get big signing
bonuses. At least the good ones do.

Hunter’s comments speak to our nation’s profound immaturity when it
comes to race. A mindset that makes rigid and often artificial census
categories like “black” and “Hispanic” take on much more significance
than is warranted and causes us to lose sight of what’s really
important.  What’s important in my view? The big picture: baseball is a
truly
international, multi-ethnic game in ways that, say, American football
will never be, and that if there’s a meritocracy anywhere in this
country, it’s in professional sports.

Like Hunter I’d love to see more U.S. blacks in the game and strongly
support and encourage baseball’s efforts to make that happen.  But
claiming that the diversity baseball has successfully cultivated
is somehow illegitimate or phony is simply pathetic

180 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. baseballfan - Mar 10, 2010 at 4:52 PM

    There isn’t anyone alive today in the United States that was ever a slave, so please stop talking about slavery as a hardship for black Americans in 2010.

  2. gale - Mar 10, 2010 at 4:54 PM

    lets face the facts, domicains and the americain black people are the same people. look at derek jeter him and a-rod can pass for brothers. look at big papi him and hunter can pass for brothers. remember carlton on the fresh prince. he is domincain. but he played a americain black man . domincains are black, not white. look at their president he is the same color of pres. obama. usa is not the only place that the eourpean contries brought slaves. look at nba player nene nene he is black from brazil. latin is a culture not a race. domincains look like halle berry beyonce janet jackson alisha keys. there are a lot of black men marrying domicains ladies because they are black. check out the essence magazines they did a story on this.domincains are poorer than americain black people.

  3. Pam - Mar 10, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    I hate to tell you this, but the Dominican Republic is not in Afica. It is in the Caribbean by Haiti!!

  4. Richard - Mar 10, 2010 at 5:18 PM

    Maybe, just maybe, Torii Hunter would recognize how offensive his remarks were if someone in Africa stated the blacks in Amercia are impostors.

  5. jj22 - Mar 10, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    “Hunter’s comments speak to our nation’s profound immaturity when it comes to race.” Speak for yourself. America is the least racist country of all.

  6. Nia - Mar 10, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    I agree with crotch_jenkins totally. I am African American with other ethnicities in 2-3 generations back. Hispanics have a lot of African ancestry through the so called conquering of the Americas, some even before Africans ever touched North America. We are all over the world due to slavery and other quest. Brazil has the largest population of people of African ancestry, outside of Africa. All people need to stop being racist, it is plain IGNORANCE.

  7. william rericker - Mar 10, 2010 at 5:33 PM

    Will I think mR. hUNTER IS A COMPLETE MORON. hE IS TyPICALL OF THE BLACK MAN OF TODAY, THEY SHOOT THERE MOUNTH OFF AND WHITE MAN RUNS SCARED UNDER A ROCK. THEY HOPE,THEY ARE THE MAIN REASON I DON’T WATCH MUCH PROS SPORTS, WITH ALL THE CELBRATIONS AND CRAP.just my 2 cents worth.

  8. AAJetMan - Mar 10, 2010 at 5:54 PM

    I have a dream that someday we will see each others as humans, not as blacks or whites or hispanics or impostors.

  9. Kevin - Mar 10, 2010 at 5:55 PM

    Interesting discussion here. I’m going to to take a jump in and disagree – somewhat – with most of what’s being written in the comments here. Let me start with this: I’m not really sure what Hunter is trying to say. Maybe he’s on to somethng or maybe he’s nuts. I just can’t tell from what’s written here. But what I do know is that all of these comments equating Black and Hispanic are way off base. I’m not speaking about slave history or geographic location or any of the other stuff people have written here. I’m talking about life. My two closest friends are black and Puerto Rican. They’re both dark skinned. They both deal with ignorance and stupidity. But there’s really no comparison when it comes to racism. My friend from Puerto Rico is, as I heard a white guy say once, “one of us”. My black friend isn’t. My black friend is cangry. My Hispanic friend is lovable. (For the record, I think my Black friend is much more lovable.) If you look at the way people (and the media) refer to black people and Hispanic people you’ll see it’s not the same. Tons of research has shown this. So being ‘Black’ is very different from being ‘Hispanic’. Again, I’m not talking about shared history or location or any of that other stuff. And I’m not talking about some overt racism. I think a lot of this is ingrained, deep down. I know I find myself doing the same stuff and am sometimes ashamed that my thoughts about my friends follow stereotypes, even though I’ve known them each for 20+ years. I remember that when Sosa and McGwire had the big home run race going, and the world loved Sammy, with his smile and all, that I somehow thought my Hispanic friend was sweeter. We had a conversation once where some people we met on vacation admitted that if they saw someone who looked Hispanic walking down a dark street they’d be less afraid than if they saw a Black man. My friends weren’t insulted by it (actually my Puerto Rican friend kept giving my other friend crap, which was pretty funny). They knew then and know now that this is how things are. Yes, they’re changing, but people still see the differences. So while I don’t know what Hunter is really saying, I do know that things aren’t as simple as some of the postings here seem to make it. Just my two cents.

  10. Jphaa - Mar 10, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    This doesn’t have anything to do with baseball. This is about Tori’s own insecurity. I pity the fool.

  11. beer angel - Mar 10, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    What an empty-headed, stereotyping remark! Unless you have reliable information on what others watch, you have projected a socially biased opinion as fact. What a day in which we live. Saying it makes it so.

  12. Carlos - Mar 10, 2010 at 6:10 PM

    Mr. Hunter, perhaps you should go to the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Panama or any other country to see how these so call “Fake Blacks” take their training every day. Where the field has more holes and rocks than a farm. Where the equipment they use is used and some times they play with out any equipment. If no ball is available they take a doll’s head to play, or even play “VITILLA”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Kujy3VAoo
    A game that I love. Go to these countries and you’ll see why MLB teams go down there and sign these “FAKE BLACKS” because maybe.. just maybe they have what it takes to play.

  13. Joey B - Mar 10, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    “I want to share a quote from a latino laborer . I would deliver to the co. he worked for ,so I got to know him over the years. I asked him one day how he was doing, and low and behold he said to me: ” when I am working I am happy ”
    I love it. I always said that about Muslims and about any other group. 95% of every group simply wants a job they can go to so that they can improve their family’s future. Same in America, same in Pakistan, same in the DR.

  14. pistol44 - Mar 10, 2010 at 6:16 PM

    as a white african american with family in south africa,i must disagree with Torii.

  15. Michael - Mar 10, 2010 at 6:52 PM

    The bottom line is that you shouldn’t have to denigrate another group of people in order to defend your group of people.
    Don’t be too hard on Torii though – he’s VERY representative, and people DO mistake Latinos of African descent for African Americans.
    My next-door neighbor is Honduran, and she’s told me many times about being treated completely differently by people before and after she speaks with her thick Latin American accent. (She’s usually treated better afterward.)
    Bottom line – anytime someone speaks about race, there’s a high risk of ending up with a foot in your mouth (either your own or someone else’s). Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, just means you should be careful.

  16. Torii is right - Mar 10, 2010 at 7:01 PM

    I can’t believe how entitled and ignorant most of you on this post are. You think the way in which you view things is correct and everyone else is wrong. People have different experiences and therefore have differing perspectives on many things, especially race. Being “Black” has very little to do with skin tone, it’s about experience, to be of African descent raised in America. If torii went to the Dominican he would be viewed ad American. Everyone with the same skin tone is not of the same culture. Torii is speaking of the white faces in the crowd who see Dominican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican players on the field and think they’re Black. Black kids still do play baseball, contrary to popular belief. The fact is there are far more medoiocre white players in the MLB than any other race. If a black player is in the MLB, chances are he’s a budding superstar. Why is that?

  17. Newell - Mar 10, 2010 at 7:03 PM

    I think you are all missing an important point. What Hunter was expressing was the frustration that some of the Dominican players might be mistaken for African-American. He is pointing to the fact that the visual experience of seeing a black player makes for a perception that baseball has more African-American representation than it actually does. A lot of black kids do not have opportunities to play organized baseball anymore, for a variety of reasons. Having a black Dominican player in the league does not in any way compensate for this.

  18. vicky - Mar 10, 2010 at 7:30 PM

    I love your comment and torii hunter what does it matter if its black or white you should have chosen your words better and say theyre arent as many african americans because theres are alot of blacks Im not speaking for the blacks in america as a whole but anybody in the US has far greater opportunities than anyone from those countries you mentioned oh and what he said about paying the spanish players what you pay for a bag of chi torii please go back and look at numbers most of the highest earned players are spanish

  19. Chad Sexington - Mar 10, 2010 at 7:30 PM

    I agree with Torii. I cant tell you how many albinos have stolen jobs me and my white friends were trying to get. Damn imposters!

  20. pistol44 - Mar 10, 2010 at 7:35 PM

    DITTO BLACKS IN BASKETBALL

  21. PISTOL44 - Mar 10, 2010 at 7:53 PM

    will black people ever get over slavery and will jewish people ever get over the holocaust?? afterall it’s been decades. we cannot be held responsible for whatour forefathers did, whether they were american or german. my dad,born in ireland and a descentant of south africa came to this great country and served and died for this great country. he was treated like a second class citizen. we have gotten over it. TORRII, YOUR A MILLIONAIRRE. ENJOY IT!!

  22. ozfraud - Mar 10, 2010 at 8:15 PM

    The American Indian and Indigenous people have it worse.

  23. georgio - Mar 10, 2010 at 9:33 PM

    Typical black ‘chip on my shoulder comment’.We have the same thing coming from the indians in Canada.These two groups are more racist than anybody else I know.They want people’s respect,but with comments like this,some don’t deserve it.Maybe there are more Latin American players because they’re better and have more heart.

  24. smsetnor - Mar 11, 2010 at 12:41 AM

    That’s some of the dumbest s### I’ve ever read. I’m going to go pray that this is sarcasm.

  25. beny reyes - Mar 11, 2010 at 3:34 AM

    torri hunter is a fuckin ignorant person the fact that he thinks that way only leads us to think that he is a racist…and how he says that black athletes choose to play basketball..or football because of the issue is just stupid ..doesnt he realize that in the dominican republic you dont have a choice that one of the few ways to make it out of poverty …and the bag of chips comments thats fuckin ignorant ..and he should be fined by the mlb

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