Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a terrific column up in which he investigates the latest intersection of sports and politics as a result of players kneeling for the national anthem. Those players, of course, have joined Colin Kaepernick’s crusade to bring attention to the inequality people of color deal with when interacting with law enforcement.
Baker was a reservist in the Marine Corps from 1968 to 1974, Nesbitt notes, but he didn’t tell his players they shouldn’t protest by kneeling for the anthem. Baker said, “Sports can’t be silent. They want you to be silent, but this is a microcosm of our whole society. It’s more of a microcosm than probably any other occupation in the world. How many different jobs have as many Latin Americans, blacks, whites, Europeans, Asians — American and from Asia — Africans. You understand? So how can it be separate?”
Baker continued, “These guys have ideas. They’ve all been raised differently. They’ve got some Republicans in [the clubhouse]. They’ve got some Democrats. They have some Trump supporters. They have some Hillary Clinton supporters. … So how can it be separate? They’re actually like the fans themselves, but they’ve just got a baseball uniform on, and you go watch them play.”
Baker also discussed that some things may seem better now than they were when he was younger, but other things have gotten worse. “There was anti-Vietnam. There was riots. There was segregation. There were more things then than there are now. Things have improved in many ways, but they’ve regressed in many other ways. We have a problem. Anybody who doesn’t think we have a problem, they need to look around and ask the young people. And we do have a problem.”