Friday, July 10, 2020


Former MLB pitcher CC Sabathia is working with the Roots of Fight apparel company to create a clothing line to honor former Black MLB players. He will serve as the clothing line's creative director, and he hopes it will raise awareness of baseball's history of Black players.

A portion of the revenue will go to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM), the estates of legendary Black players, and the Black Lives Matter movement. In a statement announcing the partnership between MLB Players Association (MLBPA) and the NLBM, this charitable donation will "preserve and celebrate the rich history of African American baseball and its significance in the social advancement of America at large."

The MLB meant to honor the NLBM this year before the pandemic hit, but the MLB did celebrate the museum's 100th anniversary last February. "It's near and dear to my heart, that museum," said Sabathia, "so I wanted to do something to commemorate the 100th year of the Negro Leagues and something for the museum to bring awareness to it and drive people to Kansas City to go check it out."

The clothing line will include hoodies, long-sleeved baseball t-shirts, and jackets. Jackie Robinson's name and likeness will also be there, and the items will cost up to $350.

Sabathia said he wants to raise awareness of the dwindling portion of Black players in the MLB, which was recently at a historic low. For instance, only 7.7% of the MLB were Black players in 2017, the lowest in history of the league going back to 1991, when 18% of MLB players were Black. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark called this the "exact opposite of growth and advancement."

At the same time, the MLB plans to fight the declining number of Black youths playing baseball with its Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program and its Youth Academy. "It's on us to step up and get these kids in the inner-city back playing," said Sabathia. "It's up to us to get these kids equipment, provide instructions, and get them playing."

Sabathia's motivation for these philanthropic endeavors harkens back to his childhood. "The reason why I started playing is because Dave Stewart looked like me," he said. "It was so many different examples of faces in the game that looked like me...and it's not that anymore. We're not represented well."

With the MLB planning to reopen later this month, it looks like the league could be reborn with this spike of racial awareness. While there have been delays with Opening Day being pushed back to July 23rd-24th, Sabathia advised that players should approach returning to the season "one day at a time."

"I think guys are just trying to make it work," Sabathia added. "Guys want to get out there and play and want to be as safe as possible, but they want to play baseball. We're baseball players; that's what we do in the summertime."

That's what we all want.

--Anthony Orlando
BYB Contributor

1 comment:

  1. Proceeds going to Black Lives Matter. No thank you.


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