SHANNON DRAYER

Mariners’ Dee Gordon has an idea to grow MLB — an all-Black WBC team

Aug 16, 2020, 12:40 PM

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Dee Gordon is in his third season with the Seattle Mariners. (Getty)

(Getty)

As MLB celebrates the centennial of the founding of the Negro Leagues, the Mariners’ Dee Gordon has an idea to both raise awareness of the history of the Negro Leagues and grow the game by getting more Black kids and communities involved in baseball.

His idea, first brought up in the Mariners’ Black Voices in Baseball video conversation, is an all-Black team in the World Baseball Classic.

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“I think we should do that,” he said Saturday. “Just having Black kids see us as a group. Follow us and know, this is my favorite player. ‘That’s Mookie Betts! Oh, that’s my favorite player now. That’s Aaron Judge! That’s Aaron Hicks, there’s Giancarlo Stanton! That’s Tim Anderson, that’s Dee Gordon, Edwin Jackson, Cameron Maybin. Marcus Stroman.’

“They need to see us. They need to see all of us play to know, just how good we are because a lot of the time, we are some of the best players on our team but we kind of get overshadowed. Kids need to see that.”

One of the obstacles to kids seeing these players is the game is so regional. It’s hard to see stars on the other side of the country and even harder when there are so few Black players on teams. If a team isn’t a powerhouse, that player isn’t going to be seen. Gordon believes much is being lost because of this.

“If our black culture could get to follow us and get to know baseball and see baseball for the fun game it is, I think that would be big,” he said on Black Voices in Baseball. “See we are good and one of them can be good. That’s what you have got to do to inspire them. Let us go show the world how talented you can be as a Black baseball player if you want the game to grow.”

Beyond the Classic, perhaps a tour. Gordon believes that showcasing an entire team featuring some of the best players in the game playing a different style of baseball, taking a page from the Negro Leagues, would go a long way in promoting the game.

“They beat ’em with pizzazz, they beat ’em with real, straight-up baseball,” he said of the Negro Leagues barnstorming teams. “If I could go back I think I would have loved to have played with them. I think my personality, my game, definitely would have fit.”

Barnstorming was a necessity before the integration of MLB. In addition to being an homage to those who paved the way for them, a tour today could be both an incredible educational and promotional opportunity. The game needs to grow and Dee Gordon has got ideas.

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