Sean Doolittle of the Oakland A’s and Eireann Dolan of HBT’s corporate cousin, CSN Bay Area, both work in sports. They do not, however, “stick to sports,” as many fans would have athletes do. They’re both active in their community and active in causes that matter to them, as this excellent profile by Tyler Kepner of the New York Times demonstrates.
Oakland Baseball’s first couple are not unique among sports figures in their philanthropic impulses, of course. Almost all players do charity work and community outreach in important and sincere ways and both Major League Baseball and the MLBPA make a point to recognize such efforts with awards each year.
As Kepner notes, however, Doolittle and Dolan are different in a sense in that, while Doolittle does a great deal of the same sorts of things a lot of players do — work with veterans’ groups being a prime example — some of the things they do are outside of the purview of typical baseball philanthropy, with LGBT outreach and work with Syrian refugees being the two most prominent examples. As Kepner notes, these are the sorts of things that are “rarely discussed, let alone endorsed, in the strongly right-leaning culture of the baseball clubhouse.”
In the past, when Doolittle and Dolan’s work with this stuff has been highlighted, many criticized them for being “political.” I find it sad and, in many ways, telling, that being involved in outreach to the marginalized and ostracized is considered a political stance or a man-bites-dog story as opposed to a simple matter of human decency. It is certainly not incumbent on anyone to get involved in such causes, but if you actually take issue with people who support the victims of intolerance and discrimination, what are you actually advocating?
That’s an unexamined question in society at large, and certainly one not often discussed in the unique culture of baseball. However it’s answered, here’s hoping that, in the future, the mere fact baseball players care about such things is not as newsworthy as the actual efforts they undertake are.