Desmond, an 11-year MLB veteran, has played the past three seasons with the Rockies after signing a five-year, $ 70 million contract.
“I am immensely grateful for my career and for all the people who have influenced it,” he said. “But when I think about it, I come across the same boxes. The golden rules of baseball – don’t have fun, don’t go home, don’t play with the character. Those are the white rules. Don.” You can’t do anything smart. Put it all the way through. He keeps everything in a box. “
The Rockies did not publicly comment on Desmond’s decision. CNN has contacted the team and MLB for comment and is waiting to respond.
Desmond will still spend the season on the baseball field – just a small diamond of the League in Sarasota, Florida, where he grew up. He will work to get the city’s baseball league “back on track,” he said.
“With a pregnant wife and four young children who have a lot of questions about what’s going on in the world, home is where I need to be now,” he said. “A house for my wife, Chelsey. A help house. A guide house. A house to answer the older boy’s questions about coronavirus and civil rights and life. Home to be their father.”
Other players are excluded from the MLB season
Players are now expected to submit a training report this week, July 1st.
Washington National Inferder Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross will not play, the team confirmed Monday. Arizona Diamondbacks will not be Mike Leake’s right pitcher either, his agent said in a statement. Zimmerman and Leake said the family took their decisions into account.
Read Desmond’s statement in full:
“A few weeks ago, I told the social media world a little bit about me never talking about it. I started by saying why this is so: I don’t like sadness and anger. I discovered that even a mare allowed me to move through my days with more ease than emotions did.So I kept it in. But it comes at an internal cost and I could no longer hold the lid to what I felt.Picture of Officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck, the gruesome murder of a Negro on the street above by the hands of a police officer, it broke my coping mechanism.Pressing my emotions became impossible.
In the days since I began sharing my thoughts and experiences as a voter in America, I have received many requests for elaboration. But it’s hard to know where to start. And, true, he has a lot on his mind. Here are some.
I recently drove to the Little League fields where I mostly grew up here, in Sarasota.
They are not in great shape. They look down. Neglected. When I saw the Cal Ripken Little League schedule plotted on the bulletin board, I approached to check it out, and it was from 2015. The only thing that shone and was new to me was the USSSA banner. Travel ball. Showcases. So, not so much baseball for everyone more … as baseball for everyone who can afford it.
I was walking through those fields, abandoned at the time, and my mind was running. I stopped at a memorial to a man named Dick Lee; Federal Head Coach and Manager, Sarasota Minor League, 1973-1985. A quote from him is quoted on the board:
‘Many men have nurtured some of their greatest life moments by stopping and taking time to think about the young men they have helped develop, from childhood to manhood, with the ability to move on in life. In no other activity has man been able to see this growth better than he has it in the heart and character of this people.
“Let’s see how our youth grows and develops in the knowledge and skills to play baseball. The award is an award that only those who practice would know about. Baseball not only develops the physical abilities of our youth, but also develops a person with the knowledge of fair play, while emphasizing the desire to win.
‘That great moment comes when you look at the final product and realize the job done. There is nothing more satisfying when you watch these young men than when you hear that famous voice shouting “Hello, Coach!” overcoming that special spirit of pride. “
I know it sounds simple as a Major League Baseball player that those fields are important in shaping my life. But I don’t think about my career.
I read Dick Lee’s words, stood there thinking when I was 10, and my stepfather dumped me on a baseball attempt. He never came back for me. Later, as I laughed at the top of the bleach, a kind stranger gave me a chance to make a phone call to alert my mom.
I was thinking about the moment, not so long after, when Coach John Howard, seeing that I was upset about something or something, wrapped me in a hug so strong that I still remember how his arms felt around me. What it was like to feel hugged like that; embraced by a man who cared about the way I felt.
Then another memory struck me: my high school teammates chanted ‘White Power!’ before the game. We would say the Lord’s Prayer and put our hands in the middle so that all the white children could shout. Two black men from the entire team sitting in stunned silence the white players seemed not to notice. I started walking around the fields a bit and then I thought of Antwuan.
In these fields, I learned a game that I played 1,478 times at the Major League level. It started when I was 10, 11, 12 – exactly how old Antwuan (12) was when I met him at the National Baseball Academy in the National League.
He couldn’t read. He barely uttered his ABCs. One morning, when his mother dumped Antwuan and his siblings at their aunt’s house at 4pm so she could come to work, they opened the door to a man stabbed to the ground. So, without sleep, suffering a murder literally in front of their door, eating who knows what for lunch, they head to school. And he is expected to perform in the classroom?
Meanwhile, my children are flying all over the country watching their father play. They attend private schools and receive additional curriculum from learning centers. They have safe places to learn, grow, develop. But … the only thing that separates us from Antwuan is money.
It just doesn’t make sense. Why is society not the first priority that provides all children with the best possible education? If we seriously want to see change, isn’t education where it all begins? Give all children a safe place for eight hours a day. Where their teachers or coaches like to see them. Where they feel supported and loved.
I went back to those little fields of the League because I wanted to find out why they succeed the way they remember me. What I broke up with was a bigger mess.
I had the most hearts and the most fulfillment in those fields – in the same exact place. I felt the hurt of racism, the loneliness of abandonment, and so many other emotions. But I also felt the triumph of success. The love of others. Support a group of men who retreat for each other and choose each other as a team.
I have to experience that because it is a place where any child who wants to can play baseball. It was there, it was accessible and there were people in it who cared.
But if we don’t have these parks, academies, teachers, coaches, religious institutions – if we don’t have communities that invest in people’s lives – what happens to children who are just broken and who never fill that moment?
If what Dick Lee knew about the truth remains that way – that baseball is passing on what we’ve learned to those who follow us in hopes of improving the future for others – then it seems to me that American entertainment is failing to do what it can, just like the country in which he entertains.
Think about it: it is in baseball that we have war work. We have widespread individualism on the ground. In club houses we have racist, sexist, homophobic jokes or open problems. We have cheats. We have a minority problem from the top down. One African American GM. Two African-American managers. Less than 8% of black players. There is no owner of the majority team in Black.
Perhaps most disgusting of all is the enigmatic lack of focus on understanding how to change those numbers. Lack of focus in making baseball accessible and possible for all children, not just those who are privileged enough to afford it.
If baseball is free time in America, it may never have been more appropriate than it is now.
Antwuan was 12 years old when he started going to the National Baseball Academy of Nationality – because that’s when it started in his universe as a resource. We have a teacher for him, he got into other programs and learned to read. He was on the right track.
He died when he was 18, shot 31 times in D. C. A 16-year-old child has just been arrested for his murder.
It is almost certain to say that the best years of his life came from that Academy … and the staff who run it had to beg people to invest money and time.
How can that be? Why is there no such academy in every single community? Why does Major League Baseball have to have a certain branch for youth baseball with RBI? Why can’t we support teaching play to all children – especially those in poor communities? Why are affordable, affordable sports for young people not seen as an essential opportunity to influence children’s development, as opposed to proposals for making money and employment? It’s hard to wrap your head around it.
I’m not going to tell you that I look at the world around me today – baseball or otherwise – and I feel like I have the answers. I do not know. I’m not a perfect person. I kept my emotions going for a long time because it seemed easier to stiffen than to understand why I was behind my feelings.
Don’t you find it easier to block it when you walk down the street and see women clutching a purse in front of you? To push it away when you find out that your class school had to hold a meeting for all the students to introduce you to you and your sister – two Black children – to enroll? Cheat it when someone makes a racist joke or suggests you have to be an athlete because how else could you have such a beautiful house? It made me into the box.
And in a lot of ways I feel like everything in my life revolves around boxes.
I remember, as a voting child, I was afraid of filling out paperwork. I was afraid of those boxes: white, black, others. A polling seat is a completely unique experience, and so many times you seem to belong everywhere and nowhere at once. I knew I didn’t walk around with the privilege of having white skin, but raised by a white mother (an amazing mother), I never completely immersed myself in black culture.
I almost always checked Black. Because I felt prejudice. That’s what black meant to me: do you feel pain? Do you experience racism? Do you feel like you are in a small shortage?
Even in baseball. I am immensely grateful for my career and for all the people who have influenced it. But when I think about it, I come across those same boxes. The golden rules of baseball – do not have fun, do not reduce to races at home, do not play with the character. Those are white rules. He’s not doing anything smart. Put it down. Keep it all in a box.
It’s no coincidence that some of my best years came when I played under Davey Johnson, whose number 1 row I was: ‘Desi, get out there and express yourself.’ If in other years I allowed myself to be what I am – to play for free and the way I was born to play, would I be better?
If we hadn’t forced black Americans into a white American box, think about how far we could have progressed.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball a risk season that I don’t like to accept. But that doesn’t mean I’m leaving the baseball year behind. I will come here, to my old Little League, and work with everyone involved in ensuring Sarasota Youth Baseball gets back on track. That’s what I can do, in the scheme so much. So I did.
With a pregnant wife and four young children who have a lot of questions about what’s going on in the world, home is where I need to be now. House for my wife, Chelsey. Home for help. Home for a guide. Home to answer my older three’s questions about coronavirus and civil rights and life. Home to be their dad.
Ian Desmond “