Saturday, August 24, 2013

EXTRA: Couldn’t Harold Baines have accepted the honor for Queen of Soul?

Alright, I get the fact that Aretha Franklin was a Detroit resident back in the 1960s and Willie Horton was a star slugger of that Tigers team that won a World Series amidst the societal unrest of 1968.

But couldn’t a Chicago-oriented ballplayer have been used to accept the Beacon Award that Major League Baseball wanted to present to the Queen of Soul? The ceremony was held, after all, at U.S. Cellular Field!

I’M NOT REALLY being facetious when I suggest that Harold Baines – the White Sox coach who was a star of the 1980s and kept playing through 2000 – could have done the duties just as well.

It’s not like anyone who spoke during the pre-game ceremonies prior to the White Sox taking on the Texas Rangers said anything all that eloquent. I’m sure that if Franklin had showed up herself (health caused her to cancel, and we had to settle for a video presentation about her musical life), she would have been more interesting.

Not that I’m knocking the ceremonies, which I caught off Comcast Sports Net (I wasn’t at the ballpark). Surprisingly enough, the cable sports channel actually showed the ceremonies – rather than just summarizing them with a few seconds of video sometime around the third inning.

I even got a kick out of seeing Minnie Miñoso, identified to the fans as the “first professional athlete of color in Chicago.” He once was just simply called the first black ballplayer with the White Sox, but we now acknowledge him as a Cuban-American who happens to be dark-skinned – and one-time catcher Sam Hairston gets to be the first African-American White Sox ballplayer for his one season back in 1951.

AS FOR THE first black ballplayer in Jackie Robinson and the first black American League ballplayer in Larry Doby, we got to see a pair of their siblings -- with promises that none other than announcer Ken Harrelson himself would get to interview Sharon Robinson. You can make your own insulting comment about such an event!

And we also got to see the seventh tribute by Major League Baseball to the Civil Rights movement. This was the Lucky 7, so to speak, Civil Rights Game – of which the White Sox have participated in three of them.

It might not have been the biggest deal in terms of tributes, although I was amused to learn that even Gov. Pat Quinn showed up Saturday for afternoon ceremonies at the Marriott Hotel on Michigan Avenue and at the ballpark itself in the evening hours.

The closest Aretha Franklin came to the South Side was on the stadium video board out beyond center field. Photograph by Gregory Tejeda
It was better than doing nothing, although I realize it pales in comparison to those people in Washington, D.C., who, on Saturday, marched to the Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial to mark the half-century anniversary of the day that the civil rights leader told us of his “dream” – which we still have some ways to go before it is achieved.


No comments: