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Everett: Scouts Don’t Recruit Black Athletes
“The black athlete, it’s fading again,” Everett said before the Sox’s series opener with Seattle at U.S. Cellular Field. “There’s not that many. It’s a baseball problem, for sure.”
Everett blamed the regression on baseball’s upper management. Black players accounted for 9 percent of major-league roster spots last season, while the number of players from Latin America ranges between 10 and 15 percent.
“Nobody’s going back in the hood anymore,” Everett said. “There’s no scouts in the hood anymore. They don’t come to the black neighborhoods and scout players. That’s a fact. They can say that the black athlete and baseball don’t play anymore, but they don’t come there anymore.
“When I was a kid, scouts were everywhere. They were at your Little League park. No more.”
Sox general manager Ken Williams, one of two minority GMs in baseball, disagreed with Everett’s assessment, noting anywhere there is a player – of any race – he will send a scout to find out more.
“I think scouts from every organization scout every avenue of the country,” Williams said. “If they hear of a player, no matter where he is, we seek out the best talent. I’m in the loop on these things, and I don’t see that as an issue. What I do see as an organization, more opportunities to play in the inner-city just are not there.”
This was second year baseball has celebrated Jackie Robinson Day.
“It’s about time,” Everett said. “We always talk about the Babe Ruths, but we rarely talk about the other guys. He had a lot to do with this game, especially for me. That’s why I say it’s about time.”
Same spot: Robinson grew up in Cairo, Ga., the same hometown as Sox infielder Willie Harris.
“It’s too bad the only good player from Cairo was him and not Willie Harris,” Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I told Willie, ‘What happened to you?’ Jackie didn’t leave any talent for Willie.”
Crowd control: The altercation between Yankees right fielder Gary Sheffield and a Red Sox fan Thursday night at Fenway Park was another example, Williams said, of baseball’s difficult balancing act.
“We’ve tried to make it fan-friendly and one of the best ways to do that is to bring people closer to the action,” Williams said. “Obviously that creates a security risk. As the incident [Thursday] night proves, you cannot seal off every aisle and every corridor and remain a fan-friendly sport. It’s a fine line to balance.”
The Sox have had their fare share of fans problems. In 2002, then-Royals first-base coach Tom Gamboa was attacked during a game by two fans. The following year, umpire Laz Diaz was confronted on the field by a fan.
“Things usually happen in the seven, eighth, ninth inning when the fans have had a chance to consume a lot [of alcohol],” Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye said. “It’s unfortunate, but you just hope nobody gets hurt.”
Getting there: Sox outfielder Scott Podsednik said he is almost ready to return to the lineup. He has missed the past three games with a sore groin.
“It’s responding real well, and it’s getting stronger every day,” Podsednik said. “I’m real close, a day or two away.”
Guillen estimates it will take a little longer.
“When he tells me he’s ready to go, I’ll give him another day off just to make sure,” Guillen said.