How Black Pitchers Deal With Home Town Hate, Home Team Racism

Black MLB pitchers have traditionally been the subject of vicious racial attacks since, forever.

Black MLB pitchers have traditionally been the subject of vicious racial attacks since, forever. Back in the days, white managers would sabotage black pitchers on the verge of winning 20 games by skipping them in the rotation. 

Don Newcombe was the first black pitcher in the MLB and the first Cy Young Award winner. But the racism he endured drove him into a whirlwind of alcohol abuse and depression that shortened his career and almost destroyed his life.

California Angels pitcher Donnie Moore gave up a playoff home run that cost his team a trip to the World Series in 1986. The guilt he carried, mixed with the death threats, bigotry and domestic problems that besieged him in the aftermath of that game, drove him to suicide by gun. 

So don’t take Major League Baseball’s investigation of a series of racist messages addressed to Cubs pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. on social media lightly.  It’s not an isolated incident in baseball’s history and reflects the unwelcoming attitudes and short fuse certain white fans traditionally have towards Black pitchers.

According to The Athletic, Edwards is reportedly the victim of repeated racially-charged and bigoted attacks on Instagram. Edwards’ agent, Lee Long of the Ballengee Group, told news outlets that Edwards had been upset by social-media comments directed at him in the past but these recent remarks “are completely beyond normal fan frustration.”

The actual comments have not been reported, but an MLB spokesman confirmed to the Athletic that an investigation is underway, saying “We are aware of the situation. We have a team that works with social-media companies to take appropriate actions in situations like this.”

The Cubs acquired Edwards Jr. in 2013 as part of the trade sending Matt Garza to the Rangers. He was originally selected in the 48th round of the 2011 MLB Draft and made his big league debut in 2015.

Edwards, one of a handful of black pitchers in MLB, says the harassment and bigotry began when the 27-year-0ld, was optioned to Class AAA Iowa on April 6 due to some struggles on the mound. Prior to his rough start in 2019, Edwards pitched in over 130 games the last two seasons and had an ERA below 3.00.


Any way you shape it, it’s another terrible look for baseball for this to surface less than 24 hours after MLB celebrates Jackie Robinson Day.

Here we have another clash in philosophies between the league office, which has made efforts to diversify the sport and appreciate baseball’s great black athletes and certain white fans who promote a culture of bigotry, which totally contradicts the legendary efforts of baseball’s color-barrier breaker.

A few years ago, it was Adam Jones being called the N-word and having peanuts thrown at him in Boston. Last year, Brewers pitcher Josh Hader had his All-Star game dampened by racist and homphobic tweets that surfaced from when he was in high school.  Now Edwards, one of about 70 African-American players in a league of over 800 players is having problems of his own erasing racism.

While it’s unclear how MLB’s investigation will unfold, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein wrote a statement vehemently detesting Edward’s’ treatment.

“We were shocked by the racist, profanity-laced social media message sent to Carl Edwards Jr. earlier this month,” Epstein wrote. “We vehemently condemn the content of the message and are supporting Major League Baseball’s investigation to identify the person responsible.

“In a sport that celebrates diversity and unites people from all backgrounds, we are appalled anyone claiming to be a fan would send divisive and bigoted insults to a player. Whether spoken, posted or published, this type of reprehensible language and views cannot be tolerated in our game or society.”

The foul social media messages appear to have come from Chicago Cubs fans, which is even worse. It’s totally comparable to how Jackie Robinson was hated by Dodgers fans –even his own white teammates– when he first hit the scene.

Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price is baseball’s last Black Ace. He represents everything that baseball racists despise. Price is an outspoken, intelligent, ace pitcher (baseball’s most glamorous position) leading the rotation of  MLB’s World Champions.

The legacy of great black pitchers from Bob Gibson to J.R. Richard to Dave Stewart and Dwight Gooden have earned brothers respect on the mound. Elite black starting pitchers are few and far between these days, however.  You have some brothers with a lot of potential like Chris Archer and Marcus Stroman, but neither has had that breakout season. CC Sabathia is an old man.

Baseball fans have got to do better. There have been too many memorable moments provided by Black ballplayers to act like baseball is a hockey game. Brothers aren’t foreign to the sport. In fact, African-American players comprise five of the Top 10 all-time home run hitters, including the top two spots with Barry Bonds (762) and Hank Aaron (755).

Carl Edwards Jr. is part of an exclusive fraternity of Black pitchers, who are already considered an endangered species in the game. The last thing they need is to be hunted down by their own fans.

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