American Legion to require ballplayers to show “proper respect” for National Anthem

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American Legion baseball is a grand American tradition. So too is our National Anthem. So too is freedom of speech and the right to protest. If you’re a Minnesota American Legion ballplayer, though, your right to protest during the National Anthem is something you have to check at the door:

American Legion Baseball players in Minnesota will be required to show “proper respect” during the National Anthem, or they won’t be able to play. The Minnesota American Legion committee adopted a no-tolerance policy when it comes to players’ behavior during the anthem before games.

“Proper respect” is being defined as players standing at attention with their hats off, and hats over their hearts. By the American Legion’s own admission, there has never been an Anthem protest during a Minnesota American Legion baseball game but the spokesman said that they just wanted to get out in front of the issue in light of Colin Kaepernick’s protests during the NFL season. He said they wanted to prohibit “kneeling down, back to the flag, stuff like that.” If you violate the new rule, you’ll be kicked out of Legion ball. The Minnesota prohibition was first reported last week and, apparently, follows on a national American Legion edict about Anthem decorum. Which I can’t recall hearing about when it happened, but apparently happened a few weeks ago.

It’s their league, so they can do what they want. And, of course, they’re an organization which cites advocating patriotism as part of its mission, so their stance on this matter is not surprising.

Anyone wanna help me form an ACLU baseball league? I’m guessing the players we’d get wouldn’t be quite as good, what with them all arguing that no one should bat first but, rather, they should all be represented in the lineup on equal terms, but our National Anthem would be fun and the arguments between the coaches and the umpires over rules interpretations would be worth the dang price of admission, that I can tell you.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.