The Orioles and the Black CommunityI am writing to address...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 19, 1992

The Orioles and the Black Community

I am writing to address one aspect of the Orioles' community relations overlooked in Jerry Bembry and Mark Hyman's Sept. 6 article.

This spring, the Orioles, in partnership with the commissioner's office of Major League Baseball, the Abell Foundation, the Junior League, the Department of Education, the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Parks & People Foundation established The Baltimore Baseball League.

With 480 participants in its inaugural year, the Baltimore Baseball League is an ambitious project with the principal goals of motivating elementary school students to improve their scholastic achievement and generating interest in major league baseball among inner-city residents.

The Orioles, under the leadership of Lawrence Lucchino, deserve recognition for their commitment and contributions. They have provided funding, administrative support and player involvement.

Sam Horn and Elrod Hendricks attended the championship games and league picnic and spoke about the importance of school and good sportsmanship. Sam Horn was featured in a pre-season recruiting video.

Tickets contributed by Glenn Davis enabled school children, teachers and coaches to enjoy an Orioles game. Scholar-athletes from each of 24 participating elementary schools were honored.

The Orioles' role in the Baltimore Baseball League was vital to our 1992 success. This success has inspired us to field 48 teams at 36 schools totaling 1,000 students in 1993.

As an African American, a lifelong baseball fan and a regular attender at major league stadiums, I am impressed and encouraged by the Orioles sincerity and commitment to this program and its goals.

Keith Leacock

Baltimore

PD The writer is program director of the Parks & People Foundation.

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I was dismayed by the front page headline of Sept. 6, "Blacks shun America's pastime." Since when did the racial makeup of sports fans rate a front page headline?

The clear implication of the article was that low attendance by blacks at professional baseball games has its origins in some form of racism. Racial remarks by two people, one dating back 14 years, are presented.

You state that blacks "only" make up 17 percent of major league rosters, yet this figure is higher than the percentage of blacks in the country as a whole. The fact that 75 percent of the NBA and 62 percent of the NFL are black seems to cause no disturbance to your writers, nor should it.

American professional sports seem to be a pure meritocracy, people being hired solely on the basis of talent, not race.

Fans may purchase tickets to professional sports strictly on their own desires, unfettered by racial quotas so often imposed by government.

In my mind, the purpose of the civil rights movement was to remove race as a factor in any decision involving people. Yet I see race constantly being an issue, far too often imposed on the public by the government or the media.

Let's find something other than this to fill the headlines on a poor news day.

Gordon B. Shelton

Towson

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It would be nice if people and the media would treat al Americans as human beings instead of categorizing them by race.

You report that 75 percent of the National Basketball Association athletes are black and 62 percent for the National Football League. No one, especially the media, has dwelled on this in the past. We observe the sports for what they are, not for the colors of the players, and that is the way it should be.

All of a sudden, because a different percentage results for baseball, you make a federal case of it.

Insofar as fan participation is concerned, one has to consider economics. For many families, to attend an athletic event (transportation, parking, tickets, food) involves a whole day's pay to see athletes who earn in one season what most will never earn in a lifetime.

Reluctantly injecting race this time into the equation, most blacks as well as a good many non-blacks cannot afford to attend the games.

It is the view of this writer the media does as much harm to race relations as it helps. I cannot offer a ready answer to the problem except there has to be a better way.

Richard L. Lelonek

Baltimore

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Jerry Bembry and Mark Hyman must have selected 40 fans who are very dense about their knowledge of the black Oriole baseball players. It is a known fact that the black players are the ones at fault and not the Orioles.

Of all the black Oriole players, Eddie Murray was the only one who involved himself in many community affairs (such as the Carrie Murray Outdoor Educational Facility).

The other players and their wives have not socialized or interacted with the black community or made themselves available to organizations for blacks, especially poor inner-city children.

I'd like to point out that white Oriole players have been very

supportive of the black community, namely one Brooks Robinson. It is indeed most unfair to place the blame for poor black attendance on the Oriole team.

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