Though baseball was never my favorite team sport, growing up in the Philadelphia media market meant that you knew who all the key players were on the Philadelphia Phillies World Series championship team in 1980.
One of the most famous sports celebrities from that storied team is Mike Schmidt, the third baseman who won three National League MVP’s before retiring in 1989. Admittedly, few are more qualified to speak on the fabric of the game than him.
Recently, Schmidt gave his opinion on why he believes you can’t field a Major League Baseball team with with too many Hispanic players, despite the fact that Spanish-speaking players from Latin America and the Caribbean dominate today’s game and have long been associated with baseball’s greatness. His statement came yesterday while appearing on 94.1 WIP’s Morning Show when asked about building around current Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera by host Angelo Cataldi.
Phillies broadcaster and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt said on Philadelphia radio station WIP on Tuesday that he doesn’t think Odubel Herrera is a player the franchise can build around. Subscribe to http://po.st/SubscribeSI Follow the latest NFL news and highlights, with updates on your favorite team and players.
My honest answer to that would be no because of a couple of things,. Schmidt said. First of all, its a language barrier. Because of that, I think he cant be a guy that would sort of sit in a circle with four, five American players and talk about the game. Or try and learn about the game or discuss the inner workings of the game. Or come over to a guy and say, Man, you gotta run that ball out. Just cant be because of the language barrier that kind of a player.
Nevermind the fact that most Hispanic players in the league either speak fluent English or understand it. Also, baseball terms are universal throughout the world. Whether its the Netherlands, Mexico or America, a strikeout is a strikeout, a home run is a home run. Or, here’s a novel idea, how’s about American players and managers learn some Spanish?
Oh, perish the thought that any American try to bridge the cultural gap for the betterment of their team, community or country.
Schmidt issued an apology later that afternoon.
Its been made known to me that my answer on a radio interview this morning to the question, Can the Phillies build a team around Odubel Herrera, was disrespectful to Herrera and Latin players in general. Im very sorry that this misrepresentation of my answer occurred and may have offended someone. I assure everyone I had no intention of that. Odubel is a dynamo on the field, and as he becomes more comfortable with the language, his leadership skills will improve, and no doubt he will be a centerpiece in the Phillies future.
What Mike said, by no way is Mike a racist, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said on today’s 94WIP Morning Show. Let me just preface it by saying that. Theres many ways to be a leader. You can lead by example, language has something to do with it, but Odubel shows everybody how to work, how to prepare for games. This guy works extremely hard and has a smile on his face while hes working hard.”