Is MLB More Sensitive to The Needs of Black Media?

By Joe Booker
Updated: March 1, 2006

TEXAS—Recently, I wrote an article that professional sports teams—particularly the NBA –when it comes to dealing with the black media during the postseason and all-star games.

The 2006 NBA All-Star game that was held in Houston did not provide parking for the black media. The black media did not receive Jam sessions tickets. The black media was not able to purchase tickets to the game for family members.

I am not blaming the Rockets. I think Nelson Luis, the Rockets media relations director does an outstanding job providing the needs of all the media. The NBA office must get its act together.

When the Super Bowl was held in Houston members of the black media did not receive tickets to the Legends Award banquet. No member of the black media was a part of the Legends Award Ceremonies.

Reliant Stadium’s press box is larger than any of the press boxes in Houston, but no member of the black media was given a seat in the press box during the Super Bowl. I have learned that the NBA and NFL cater only to the major media, big business, entertainers and friends.

Major League Baseball (MLB) — especially with the Houston Astros, has always been sensitive to the need of the black media.

When the MLB All-Star game was held in Houston, the black media was a part of all of the activities. Members of the black media received priority seating in the press box. MLB does not discriminate against the black media during the postseason and all-star games.

MLB is the only sport that recognizes the accomplishments of blacks in sports by retiring Jackie Robinson’s number “42” number. Jackie’s daughter is part of the decision-making process in race relations with MLB.

The black media in Houston, as a hold, has always been felt welcome by the Houston Astros. Jimmy Stanton, media relation director and his staff have treated all media members with the same respect. Drayton McLane is the most down-to-earth team owner I have met since I met the late Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney. Drayton greets and shakes hands with all members of the media that he comes in contact with. The late Mr. Rooney sent me a Christmas card until his passing.

The Houston Astros have several blacks in key baseball positions. Ricky Bennett is assistant general manage. Enos Cabell is a consultant to general manager Tim Purpura. Purpura has shown that he is color-blind by hiring blacks in decision-making positions

Drayton made Bob Watson the second black general manager in major league baseball within a year after he bought the team.

Although the Astros don’t have that many blacks on the playing field, they have blacks in decision-making positions, which is more important. A lot of professional teams have black athletes, but don’t have blacks in the front office.

I talked with Tim Franks with the NBA Media Relations Department about the problem. He was apologetic and told me that those things won’t happen again.