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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. Unanomious - Mar 11, 2010 at 7:32 AM

    Tell Tori Hunter 2 ask Manny Ramirez and Vladi Guerrero How many bags of chips they kan get wit the wage differences in there salary.. enough to feed his family when he goes out of a job with his sorry ass

  2. Joey B - Mar 11, 2010 at 9:14 AM

    “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.”
    But possible difference can this make? I live in an Irish neighborhood, and you can’t tell me apart from some of the ones born on the other side. And I cannot see one possible reason that I should care. It’s insane. What possible difference could differentiating by country of national origin make?
    Hunter has since backed off of his statement a little, so I don’t care. He seems like a standup kind of guy who just said something stupid on the spur of the moment and has reconsidered, as all of us have at on etie or another.
    What I don’t get is the defense of his statements that he himself has since repudiated.

  3. Dee - Mar 11, 2010 at 9:58 AM

    The dominican Republic shares the same Island as Haiti right? Sammy Sosa said it best when that fool tried to erase his blackness by lightening his skin and saying he was using moisturizer, what bull. Hunter is right the Blacks in the Domincan Republic DO NOT consider themselves BLACK, they want NO PART of being called black even if they are black as coal. To be black in the Domincan republic is considred a shame, the pple there are toooo ignorant to KNOW what they really are. They think a drop of white blood makes them white even if their skin is black as tar. So kudos to Hunter, they are IMPOSTERS and they know it that is why they are not offended. I just read the other day that those folks on the island of hispanolia didnt even realize they were black until they came to the US, got it, know it, cuase that is how it is. Stupid azz Tiger Woods is also a prime example of a dark face that does not consider his African roots, but look at his black face and big lips what else can he be?

  4. Genron187 - Mar 11, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    Heyyyyy..Wow for once I agree with a statement on here. I have to use this one in the future. Although is was a dumb comment to say publicly , black players in MLB do feel that way. But it’s all some BS. lol

  5. Randy - Mar 11, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    You are wrong!!
    The ethnic composition of the Dominicans is as follows: 73%meztisos, 16%white, 11Blacks.
    I am Dominican and proud. I’m white skin.
    Here in Dominican Republic is normal to see people with white skin or brown skin. Most blacks are in the Dominican Republic are Haitian(2.5 millons).
    Here in Dominican Republic, in the region north or ciabao, there are almost all white, especially in the second city of the Dominican Republic (Santiago).
    Dominicans are African and Eropean descendent. you just have to go to wikipedia and read about the ethnic composition of the Dominican Republic.
    Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominican_Republic#Ethnicity
    Im dominican and i live in Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo City) One of the most developed cities in the Caribbean and America Central).
    Sorry if i write something wrong, my english is not very good.

  6. Danny - Mar 11, 2010 at 5:15 PM

    Torri Hunter is a sad case. He is trying to defend his african americans race and in the process he trashes hispanics.
    I am Dominican and would stick out for any african american, but this kind of crap makes me sick. It’s no wonder the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans do not get along with african americans.
    This is not a grandious plan against the african americans. The bottom line is, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Venezuelans play harder period. Just go to the DR and you will see what I mean. Those guys kick butt.
    Dny

  7. brett - Mar 11, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    How do you know they are descended from slaves? Lots of African Americans have no ancestry that includes slavery. Just because a person is black doesn’t automatically make their great great granddad a slave. This is even more insulting than what Hunter said.

  8. juanpe - Mar 11, 2010 at 7:51 PM

    In Latin America your are not considered and afro-dominican, or afro-venenzuelan or afro-puertorrican, etc., but as a dominican, venezuelan or puertorrican, because in Latin America the one of drop rule is the opposite than in the U.S. In the U.S a drop of black blood makes you black, in Latin America a drop of white blood makes you white. And there are historical reasons for both rules.

  9. juanpe - Mar 11, 2010 at 8:01 PM

    Maria Carey is considered black in the U.S. She would be considered white in any country of Latin America. Why? In the U.S. race is based on the one of drop rule (invented by slave owners in the U.S. to maintain as slaves people that otherwise would have been free), in Latin America race is determined by phenotype, and there are around 10 racial classification for people of mixed race, although phenothype, education, social status and economic condition can influence how you are racially classified.

  10. Rick - Mar 11, 2010 at 8:19 PM

    Torii you idiot, you will soon have to call “Da Ambalance”

  11. fabian - Mar 11, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    Tori Hunter is a retard. He should just shut his mouth and practice some more. He’s not as good as Dominican or other latin players and just mad because he doesn’t make as much money as them. Maybe he should try out for the NBA. But wait Tori there’s latinos and Europeans (non black people) in the NBA too now =( Oh so sorry Tori cry baby

  12. Pea - Mar 11, 2010 at 8:54 PM

    Torii just embarassed the balls off of me and anyone else with brown skin. Please someone tell me that he’s not trying to assume that there always needs be an advantage for blacks. Oh for the love of pete, how embarassing.

  13. Dexter - Mar 11, 2010 at 9:41 PM

    Torii Hunter is NOT as off the mark as we might think. To many observers his comments sounds racist and ignorant, but you will see shortly that he is not way off. He does a poor job in the choice of words and his comments about money is debatable but when he talks about Dominican players (them specifically) not being black (which sounds silly to the observer), he is partially correct.
    To you and I, Vladimir Guerrero, Big Papi, Hanley Ramirez are all physically black even though they are Dominicans, however, while I can’t speak for them, many Dominicans their complexion and darker refuse to consider themselves black. It is an extremely complicated matter that stems from a backward form of institutionalized racism.
    I don’t know what Hunter heard from his Dominican teammates, but PLEASE check out this article from the Miami Herald fro a few years back I read when it first was published. Part of my family is Dominican and I live right next to the Dominican community here in northwestern Manhattan so I KNOW first hand that this article nails the issue right on the head.
    PLEASE read:
    http://www.miamiherald.com/multimedia/news/afrolatin/part2/index.html

  14. juanpe - Mar 13, 2010 at 7:21 PM

    I think that Hunter was wrong in calling dark skin latin players impostors. I think that what he was trying to say was: “Hey, people see a lot of players of dark skin and they think they are black americans, but they are not”.
    And the reason for this is that the draft system that is affecting not only african-american, white american but also Puerto Rican players. A few years ago there we are lot of Puerto Rican players in the major leagues. Their number have diminished considerably compared to dominicans and venezuelans. When that decline in Puerto Rican players started to occur? When Puerto Rican players had to enter the draft system of the major leagues. If a player is rejected in the draft he can not enter in the profesional baseball leagues of the U.S. Players from the other countries of Latin America and the rest of the world do not have that problem. An agent can sign any player from Dominicana or Venezuela without entering the draft and this player can start to develop in the minor leagues of the U.S. The same doesn’t happen to U.S. players (black or white) or Puerto Ricans. I think all players should enter the draft no matter the country where they come from.
    Thank you,
    rohu50@yahoo.com

  15. juanpe - Mar 13, 2010 at 7:29 PM

    Correction: Players from Canada also enter the draft system.

  16. Salem - Mar 13, 2010 at 10:01 PM

    Although distastefully communicated, Torii Hunter was not so subtle when he touched on a controversial issue within the African diaspora. Other than the obvious, culturally, Afro-Latino ball players have little in common with their American counterparts. It is possible that their comradery is limited to the ballpark (which is not a crime). Afro-Latino players will naturally gravitate to one another because they share the same culture and circumstances, often coming from the same neighborhoods back home. While Americans prefer to group everyone as “white”, “black”, or other, many blacks from the Carribean, South America and even continental Africa are uncomfortable being grouped with black Americans. This may have something to do with how the world views African Americans.

  17. Swabbie - Mar 15, 2010 at 7:19 PM

    Hunter is a racist basically he is say being dark skinned African American is somehow different from being dark skinned Dominican.
    How about once and for all we stop trying to divide society into groups of victims and then point the fingers at the other groups and claim they are not the real victims.
    We are all human and we all bleed the same color the only reason to keep these groups going is to make other groups of people feel guilty

  18. dp - Mar 15, 2010 at 9:52 PM

    Your right, most are Black Muslim,The Black Panthers, and most blacks in general. Think about it !!!

  19. Augusto - Mar 16, 2010 at 5:38 PM

    Wow, this was a totally unnecessary remark, actually a very racist comment, coming from an african american it is even more imcomprehensible. Latin players are not arguing their racial background. Players like Roberto Clemente suffered the discrimination of the times way back alongside the great negro league players. Latin players know what is like to feel discriminated, be it their color, language or background. So Mr. Hunter should have made a little research before talking about something he does not anything about. Shame on him.

  20. Rah - Mar 23, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    How would Torii Hunter view President Obama?
    Would he consider him to be African American, considering that he was brought up in Indonesia and Hawaii and his biological father is from Kenya (East African African and not African American)?

  21. ufrsports - Mar 23, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    What Hunter was really saying was, that baseball doesn’t care that very few African-Americans play baseball. I take his statement to mean that baseball knows this, but rather than attempting to solve the issue, they give the impression the problem doesn’t exist by pointing to dark skinned Dominicans.
    What the author fails to recognize, is that the African-American journey in baseball is very different from any other people of color playing the game. There were no foreign players in baseball at the time, white or black. Robinson’s participation in MLB was about more than black players in the game.
    Baseball seems to forget it’s self imposed racial ban. And now wants to forget that historical legacy. I’ve worked in the front office for a major league team. Trust me, professional baseball is not the most diverse business by any means.
    I think I see what Hunter was attempting to say. His word choice definitely needed improvement. But his point, that baseball is ignoring the fact that it will eventually have no black players of American decent, should be heeded.

  22. Jon Jon - Apr 6, 2010 at 12:45 AM

    Think about your comments… They are the reasons why you didn’t get the job.

  23. Jon Jon - Apr 6, 2010 at 1:38 AM

    For Dominicans such as myself is DAMN if you do and DAMN if you don’t. I have lived in Canada for the Past 15 years. Before Coming to Canada I never thought of myself as “BLACK” because in the Dominican the “one drop rule” is accepted in the reversed but for the Spanish heritage not the African one. This is a deeply rooted issue which Dominicans who have never left the island will find very difficult to understand, because they will never have to question origin or the reality of the color of our skin and the texture of our hair. If you didn’t know I was Dominican, most people would look at me and go.. There is a “light Skin” Black male or a mulato or mix but always keeping the “African or Black” in the equation. Leaving the Dominican and being faced with these racial questions made me want to understand more about the my background and today I do understand that my skin is brown and my hair is a little “nappy” because part of my ancestry is “African”. Now….. Talk about the confusion “NORTH AMERICAN BLACKS” create for these Dominicans: http://www.miamiherald.com/multimedia/news/afrolatin/part2/index.html When they come to the US or Canada??? I actually experience this crazy thing myself. First I thought I was just a Dominican Kid who came to Canada… Then all the White People told me I was Black or they asked me “What are you MIXED with” and then once I came to terms with the fact that I was a little blacker then I thought, some in the “black community” accused me of trying to be or say that I am something I am NOT??? I was lucky enough to have intellect and education leading me through these circumstances, unfortunately for most Dominicans and many MLB players such as David Ortiz, Many Ramirez, and Sammy Sosa who have been brained washed by our Dominican Society to believe that black is ugly, people like Tori Hunter proves them right. The reason why there are more “DOMINICAN” players in MLB then any other nation outside of the U.S. is because all though most Dominican Kids can’t afford a baseball glove, WE eat, drink, and sleep PELOTA (Baseball). Everyday kids in the Dominican are playing some time of baseball related game on the streets. Not only do we enjoy the game but we LOVE IT, and we have the weather conditions to play it ALL YEAR ! Growing up in the D.R., a piece of thread, a sowing needle, some string, a little round stone and a few yards of string makes you a sophisticated baseball that is ideal for playing in the streets and an empty juice carton makes you a glove. Practice Makes Perfect, not the color of your skin.

  24. Bill Stank - Apr 13, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    Torii is a mediocre player and looking to blame someone else for his lack above average talent and hence, a stronger paycheck.
    He also just besmirched the honor and reputation of great American Blacks in MLB who don’t agree with what he said and can’t begin to fathom where that nutty comment came from.
    Hey Torii, don’t expect stuff to be handed to you because you were lucky enough to be seen when the scout came buy on that one day in High School or College. Shut-up and earn it before you are sent off.

  25. IamDominican - Apr 23, 2010 at 11:28 PM

    We are decendants of the African people, but we are also decendants of the Spanish (European) and Taino people– and we’re Catholic. For those of you who spelled “Domenican”, you’re wrong. We are mostly black, we get it and we’re proud of our beautiful dark skin, BUT we are not US African American–there is a big difference as there is a difference among Jamaicans, and other West Indians–not saying that it is negative, it’s just different. Once we are all clear and can respect each other, we will be fine, otherwise we will always try to hate on each other and keep all of us down. Respect and love is all that matters–let’s unite and not care where we are from. Just that we have each other’s back when the “majority” in this country doesnt.

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