Major League Baseball has lost its virtue
Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi in March to replace U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (who resigned for health reasons) faced Mike Espy, a Democrat, in the Nov. 27 runoff election and the final tally shows her to be the winner.
During the campaign, news reports surfaced that HydeSmith, voiced the following comment, “If there were a public hanging, I would be there in the front row.” Here is the chronology of events that proceeded her comment:
Nov. 2: Comment made at campaign rally. The comment stirred up the painful history of lynchings in Mississippi and elsewhere.
Nov. 6: Hyde-Smith is heard on video saying that her comment would be “a great idea” and that she would happily sit in the front row for public hangings.
Nov. 2 -6: Around the time that inflammatory comments by Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi invoking public hangings surfaced on video, Major League Baseball (MLB) donated $5,000 to her campaign.
Since MLB contributed, further reports have become known showing Hyde-Smith’s support for the Confederacy. In a photograph on her Facebook page, she is shown wearing the cap of a Confederate soldier and holding a musket. The caption reads, “Mississippi history at its best.”
Nov. 23: The Hyde-Smith campaign reported its contributions to the Federal Election Commission.
Nov. 24: After word of the donation was revealed — the maximum legal amount — MLB asked for the money back, three weeks after the public hanging comments were made. MLB says the donation was made earlier in the month at a political event by MLB lobbyists who were unaware of her remarks.
Nov. 25: The MLB justification for making the original donation related to several initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion in its sport. “The contribution was made in connection with an event that MLB lobbyists were asked to attend,” an MLB representative said in a statement. “MLB has requested that the donation be returned.”
Around the time that inflammatory comments by Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi invoking public hangings surfaced on video, Major League Baseball (MLB) donated $5,000 to her campaign.
Many of Hyde-Smith’s comments, some of which she has apologized for or attempted to explain, contradict MLB’s prior stance on diversity in Major League Baseball, per the following that is reprinted directly from the MLB website about Jackie Robinson’s legacy and contributions to Major League Baseball and to American society:
“MLB has honored Jackie Robinson on April 15 since 2004, and it has been customary since 2009 for every person in uniform to wear Robinson’s No. 42 on the field.
On April 15, 2018, MLB celebrated the 71st anniversary of Jackie Robinson Day, which marks the day Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. It reflects on Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers to become the first African American player in league history.
In addition to donning No. 42, each player will also wear hats with a special patch honoring Robinson ...
According to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, proceeds from the sale of Jackie Robinson Day apparel will be donated to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which provides financial assistance to college students
Among the biggest highlights will be the annual involvement of Robinson’s family. Robinson’s widow, Rachel, and his children, Sharon and David, will make an appearance at Citi Field for Sunday’s game between the New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers.
Robinson spent his 10-year MLB career playing in New York for the then-Brooklyn Dodgers, and he remains a revered figure in the city.
No. 42 is the only number that is retired across MLB, and Jackie Robinson Day is the one day of the year where fans will see it in remembrance of one of the sport’s greatest trailblazers.”
The only conclusion that I have been able to rationalize for MLB’s actions related to donating to a politician that smears and disrespects Jackie Robinson’s honor and reputation in the manner that it has acted during the past few weeks is that MLB has lost its virtue.
Michael M. Ego is a professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Connecticut, Stamford, and teaches the course, “Baseball in Society: Politics, Economics, Race and Gender.”
Members of the New York Yankees wear No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson during the National Anthem before an MLB game against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 15, 2009 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, speaks to supporters as she celebrates her runoff win over Democrat Mike Espy in Jackson, Mississippi last month.