White Sox thrilled to be hosting Civil Rights Game
The White Sox and Rangers play tonight at U.S. Cellular Field, but it won’t be just another game on the marathon schedule.
Tonight, the Sox and Texas square off in the seventh annual Civil Rights Game.
The White Sox played in the Civil Rights Game in 2007 – when it was an exhibition – and in ’09, a regular season game at Cincinnati.
This year, the Sox are hosting the game for the first time.
Before arriving at the Cell Saturday afternoon for batting practice, the White Sox’ entire team attended Major-League Baseball’s Beacon Awards Luncheon, where Bo Jackson was the guest of honor.
“I think it's important for our guys to be able to go and I think it's important for us as an organization that we do the game,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It's great that Bo's honored, somebody that played for the White Sox, and I think in his place, not only in baseball but in society and everything else he's done, I think that's the fun part of being able to go.”
There has been a steady decline of African-Americans in baseball, and in November, MLB released a Player Diversity Report.
Tabulating the 40-man rosters of all 30 major-league teams, 62 percent of the players were Caucasian, 28 percent were Hispanic, 8 percent were African-American and 1 percent were Asian.
Relief pitcher Donnie Veal is the only African-American player on the White Sox’ current 25-man roster.
“You definitely notice it,” Veal said. “I think I'm the only one out here today. MLB has put in the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) Program and stuff like that. That's all you can do is get out there, get in the community and try to get the game out there as much as possible.”
Executive vice president Kenny Williams is African-American, and so are four of the last five White Sox first-round draft picks – Jared Mitchell (2009), Keenyn Walker (’11), Courtney Hawkins (’12) and Tim Anderson (’13).
“It always can be helped,” Sox assistant hitting coach Harold Baines said of the lack of African-Americans in baseball. “Everyone talks about the inner-city, it's just the kids have more options. I can't blame it one thing or another. They have more options than 30 years ago.”