Kristen Harper of CSNChicago.com sat down with Cubs legend Ernie Banks to talk about all manner of subjects. Primarily on Banks’ mind, however, was baseball’s need to bring more African-American players into the fold. It’s a good read, but this part — in which he talked about how he, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays are all interested in the topic — jumped out at me:
“Hank applied to be commissioner of baseball. They laughed at him for that and Willie Mays, he just played his own game and helped a lot of kids with the Giants and New York Mets, but we’re very concerned about the fact that the black population in baseball has really decreased,” Banks said.“It’s like you see an All-Star Game, a World Series, you don’t see any black players at all, and we’re concerned about it.”
I had never heard that Aaron made an effort to become commissioner of baseball. Or if I did once hear it I had forgotten it. For what it’s worth, I’m glad he never did it because while so many are predisposed to think of the job as some high honor, the job of the Commissioner really is to do what the 30 owners want and to grow the bottom line. Frankly, I think Aaron is above that kind of business. Or at least he has become so as time has gone on and his legend has grown larger.
Beyond that, yes, the number of African-Americans in baseball is a frequently mentioned topic. I think it’s less pressing than overall diversity in the game, which is doing quite well, thank you, but sure, in a perfect world everyone is playing baseball.