“Brain-Dead” Journalists And Why We Must Remain Vigilant

By Tony McClean
Updated: August 7, 2005

Felipe Alou

Felipe Alou (circa 1960′s)

“The Giants are a truly awful, pathetic, old team that only promises to be worse two years from now. It’s just awful. It really is bad to watch. Brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly. You have a manager in Felipe [Alou] whose mind has turned to Cream of Wheat.”

– Larry Krueger, KNBR talk-show host NEW HAVEN, Ct. — Just this past Friday, the staff at BASN received an e-mail from a reader who made the claim that our site is racist. His main point of contention was that “assuming that since someone can run fast and participates in an event that requires no learned skill that they are a good athlete”.

Not too much later that same day, the above mentioned quote by Mr. Krueger was reported by some national publications. On a weekend where the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1964 was celebrated by many, the comments by Krueger and our e-mailer shows just how far this country still has to go in regards to race issues.

What makes Krueger’s comments even more venomous is when you look at the current state of the alleged “National Pastime” in regards to minorities in general. In the eyes and mind of Mr Krueger and many other reporters or commentators, it isn’t about the talent or the skill, it’s still about race.

It doesn’t matter that superstar Caribbean players like Albert Pujols, Johan Santana, Vladimir Guerrero, David Ortiz, and Livan Hernandez are dominating this American game.

It doesn’t matter that the Giants’ franchise has been blessed with two of the greatest Caribbean players to ever play the game in Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal. Both being Hall of Famers as well.

It doesn’t matter that great Caribbean players of the past like the late Roberto Clemente, Luis Tiant, Tony Oliva, Fernando Valenzuela were not only contributors on the field, but they were also ambassadors of the game off the field.

In truth, Clemente’s ultimate sacrifice in trying to help the people of his country in 1973 came long before football player Pat Tillman’s much publicized break from his sport.

Sadly in the eyes of Mr. Krueger and many others like him, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about being a “Brain-Dead Caribbean”. Sure, now he’s apologized and the radio station has suspended him for a week.

But as far as I’m concerned, his name now joins Al Campanis, Marge Schott, John Rocker, and a list of many baseball folks who have no idea of the things that African-American and Hispanic players have and in many ways are still having to go endure.

Krueger’s comments were partically even crueler to San Francisco’s current manager Felipe Alou, whose family formed the first all-Hispanic outfield in Major League history for the Giants in the 1960′s.

“It really made me sad to know that 40, almost 50 years later I could hear comments like that,” said Alou, who faced racism as a black Dominican minor-leaguer in the South nearly five decades ago.

“Especially in San Francisco … I never heard anything like that here. I heard it in the South and in some other cities, but not here. A man like me and the Latin guys out there, we have to be aware now that it’s not over yet. It is coming back.”

To no one’s surprise, this story has been somewhat pushed on the back burner by the national media. Instead of talking intelligently about the incident, many media folk have been focusing on a future article in New York Magazine about the alleged “feud” between New York Yankees Gary Sheffield, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez.

One of the things we try to do here at BASN is to not be like any other sports site in the county. We’ve always tried to celebrate and try to leave a lasting, daily document celebrating the past, present, and future contributions of the Black Athlete. This includes all athletes of color whether they be Hispanic, Caribbean, Jamaican or otherwise.

While we always entertain, we also try to educate and inform as well. It appears that after this weekend, we’ve got some serious work to do in educating some “Brain-Dead” media members as well.

As always, the struggle continues.

NOTE: The Associated Press contributed to this story.