Racial Disparity in the Umpire’s Union? There has to be another question to ask

By Gregory Moore
Updated: October 30, 2004

Chuck Merriweather

SAN ANTONIO, TX – One of the reasons why I decided to be a sports columnist was to ponder questions that just come to my brain. As I have mentioned so many times before, most of these questions come in the form of research and what not but today’s opinion is coming for the very website where this article will be posted, blackathlete.net. Today’s topic comes off of the following headline from the October 28th issue of the “Blackbox” and it was entitled: Why Is MLB Keeping World Series Story ‘Secret’. Chuck Meriwether 1st Black Series Ump In Eleven Years”

The story from today’s Blackbox is about Chuck Meriweather being the fourth African American to umpire in the World Series. The story takes the form of lambasting Major League Baseball because they are not making a big deal about it. Well that’s fine and the “Box” has the right to do what it does best and that is to stir the thinking juices of the reader. However let me offer a different recipe for the readers this week. Why should it be up to Major League Baseball or the umpire’s union to promote something that could benefit Black folks? I understand where the “Box” story is coming from but what this sounds like to me is just another topic trying push the collective “racism” buzzer with the community.

Maybe my style of confrontation on issues is a little outdated. I look at things from an angle that sometimes even boggles my mind however this week’s thought is very succinct and clear. The angle that the “Box” is trying to take is a similar angle to the argument of how come there aren’t more Black owners in football, baseball or basketball. It’s the same argument of how come there aren’t enough Black coaches at the Division I level for football. It’s the same argument of how come there aren’t enough Blacks who are in senior management. And so here we are again. Same topic so to speak, just a different voice. In other words, my beef with the “Box” is the fact that why should attention be made about one person doing his job and he happens to be of color. That’s not the story to really go after. If you want a story, it should be how come there aren’t more Chuck Meriweathers in the MLB ranks to begin with.


For once I would like this argument to be shelved once and for all. For once I’d like to see the Black community understand that what is needed is for those who are in a position to elevate others, to do so and do so without any fanfare. Think about this from the sports side of things for a moment. Do you honestly think that the Dominicans beat their chests every single time one of their baseball stars does something “heroic” outside of baseball? Maybe some do and maybe some don’t. Or how about the Australians? Think they do the same? If other ethnicities don’t “beat the drum” when one of their sports heroes does something that many agree should be done anyway outside of the realm of sports, why are African Americans so apt to want to have a big ceremony?

Let’s put this in the context of what this piece is all about; one African American MLB umpire. So Merieweather made it to the big show and was umpiring the series of all series? In my eyes that’s no big deal. What’s a big deal is the fact that there aren’t enough of umpires like him throughout the game. But does that mean I need to call up Bud Selig and bitch about it? Nope. What that tells me is that the few umpires who are in a position to talk to the young men in their communities about job opportunities need to do so and they need to get the backing from the school counselors and others that have that type of influence on those kids’ lives. And that my friends is where our problem truly lies; the influential individuals on youngsters’ lives.

It’s okay to scream a racial disparity on a topic and many times it needs to happen. Yet all of that yelling and screaming does not solve a single problem. What it does is that it shows the rest of the world that for African Americans, we are all about a show. A little flash and we’re satisfied. Why do you think that this particular community can be so sedated on certain issues? Because that’s what they look for; the flash and dash routine. Well I’m not one for that type of magic show. I have always believed in showing something was done with results and continued follow up care on the issue. Maybe writing about the problem is my way of bringing attention to it but you can bet that if someone e-mails me with questions on career opportunities on umpiring and/or referring at the highest level, I’d do what I could to assist them. I’d do more than just scream, “It’s a racial injustice!”

So take this author’s words to heart on the matter. While Thursday’s Blackbox definitely brought the attention of a situation and this article expounded on a different avenue to that same situation, it is up to the readers and the African American sports community put these words into action. The “Box” can only do so much and I can only ask so many questions on a subject. If you think there is a serious racial disparity with baseball umpires on the MLB level, then maybe it is time for you to become proactive and help recruit some individuals to take up where Meriweather and others are. I’m sure they’d appreciate the help. I know I would if I were a “lone ranger” on the prairie.