The Link Between Josh & Barry

By Matthew Anderson
Updated: July 21, 2008

SAN DIEGO — What do Barry Lamar Bonds and Josh Gibson have in common? Obviously they are both African-American baseball players acknowledged by their peers as being at the top of their game.

But there is more.

They could both hit, you say? Well yes, but Hank Aaron and Mark McGwire could hit the baseball too. Josh Gibson will have little in common with Babe Ruth in the annals of history, even though he hit the baseball as well and possibly better.

When teamed with the memory of Josh Gibson, Barry Bonds will share a great in common. Their Blackness can be seen as partially defining. But that alone would be like looking at a three-dimensional object in 2-D.

Race, though always defining in American sport, represents in this case, looking at a color photograph but only seeing black and white. There are other dynamics at play where the medium becomes the message.

Yes, race has always defined America’s folk culture. To be tall, dark and handsome was the rage in fifties America, but those attributes were never positively assigned to Black actors during that Hollywood heyday.

What was really being said was that folks wanted their men tall, not Black and handsome?

But what Bonds and Gibson have in common an experience that is much less perceived by the brain washed willing sports public. Indeed, Americans seem so taken with the reporting of the major sportswriters and ESPN that the perspectives of these two entities represent the “lion’s share” of all thought in sports America.

When Josh and Barry are linked in history, it will always be because they both suffered a lack of what I’ll loosely call “due process.” In Gibson’s case, there was no use in “lynching” a dead man.

Major media at that time gave little or no attention to the athletic achievements of Black athletes — thus no “due process.” This occurred long after Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe Sr., had saved America’s “cookies” at the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

Their achievements in beating Hitler in Germany took a back seat however to Max Schmeling’s one-time defeat of Joe Louis. Many white Americans were happy to see the “Brown Bomber’s” defeat while also saddened at Black America’s Olympic achievement. “Heil Hitler!”

The contribution that Owens and Metcalfe made to the psyche of Americans as they overcame better-trained and better-equipped German forces was never truly appreciated for its national psychological uplift to this nation.

While Ty Cobb’s openly racist behavior had been embraced, Owens and Metcalf encountered a far different reality. Their reality upon returning home was that they should not to be found with an empty gas tank at night in any small town 20 miles outside of Atlanta in any direction.

But that history is not today — or is it?

Clarence Thomas played the “race card” when he was caught with his hand in the “nookie jar” and media exalted him. He went on to become the “silent partner” of the otherwise white reactionary Supreme Court.

May Thurgood Marshall rest in peace!

Josh Gibson was denied his rights as an American, having not been allowed to equally participate with white players in America’s pastime. Records were obscured, salary was lost and the Black sub-culture of Americas was abridged and denied its rightful place in the annals of history.

From that day forward, American history was further distorted. Meanwhile, Ty Cobb slid cleats high into base, unnecessarily injuring white players and is still “lionized” for his “record performances.”

Barry Bonds has been found guilty of nothing to date. Nonetheless his career has been cut short and his home run records have been short-circuited.

Clearly Bud Selig and the “Champagne Conspirators” have decided that Bonds should be the poster boy for what we know McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and William Roger Clemens did!

Bonds, has not been caught lying to Congress. He has never even taken the “fifth” — a legitimate exercise of one’s constitutional rights that nonetheless often leads to unrelenting media suspicion.

Though his relationship skills have been rightfully questioned, Bonds has never suffered the accusation of having had sex with an underage minor while married to his wife and with children.

He has not spoken through an interpreter, even though he could curse in English. Yet he has been prevented from achieving his best in baseball and in earning a living.

Any asterisk by his name shall really represent his career having been hijacked by baseball’s ownership along with the print and broadcast media.

Bonds, just wasn’t media friendly! And where is it written that an athlete or any other performer has to pass the Fourth Estate’s “he’s our buddy muster?”

In the immortal words of Joe Friday, “We want the facts M’aam — just the facts.” Media mavens shouldn’t even be trying to “buddy-up” with athletes. That is not their job!

The airwaves are public, no matter the recent corrosive maneuverings of Congress and the White House. That baseball gets a tax exemption “pass” by the Congress is telling in its own right.

Does the IRS tell the average “fan” that it is ok to write off their season tickets and all athletic equipment purchased? It is our job — no, media’s sacred trust — to share information that is as value neutral as possible.

This does not mean that vindictiveness is ok because one can’t get an interview. This does not mean doing the bidding of the rich “box seat” ownership is our first priority.

It does not mean carrying on vendettas, personal or for hire should become par for the course. Our responsibility and commitment is to accuracy, honesty and objectivity in reporting events.

History and the coming generations suffer when we allow ourselves to be used to display unproven “truths.” One needs look no further than America’s erroneous involvement in the current quagmire in the Middle East for verification of why this can be so dangerous to a nation.

When one thinks about it, Josh, Barry and the American public have all been hoodwinked. Winston Churchill advised that, “History is written by the victors.”

When 30 MLB owners receive more profits for a sporting enterprise than the 750 players who actually “produce” the product, whose interests represent the biggest dog in that fight?

Who is most vested in making sure that their box seats and Bentleys stay air-conditioned? While aspartame in diet drinks is allowed to generate huge profits for the big boys, what’s in your wallet?

Sports fans are the clear losers.

Is champagne served in the bleacher seats at baseball games?

So the next time you agree with an ownership sensitive sports article or broadcast, just remember that you the fan have more in common with Barry than with Bud.

This “Bud” ain’t for you!

They used to call what is now “Qualcomm” Stadium in San Diego “the Murph.” This is so because it was named after Jack Murphy, a mildly distinguished “home-cooked” sports writer who never put on pads professionally and never took a hit.

When ownership decides to name it Earl Faison, or Ernie Ladd or John Jefferson or even LaDainian Tomlinson stadium, then we can talk.