Kick The Can

By Walik Edwards, BASN Staff writer
Updated: May 5, 2012

Ironic. It had to be a Red Sox to attempt to defame the legacy of the man who was responsible for him playing the game at all...

Ironic. It had to be a Red Sox to attempt to defame the legacy of the man who was responsible for him playing the game at all...




So Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd gives up some private dirt that he indulged in some hard drug use during his playing days, documenting one specific game where he smoked crack before the game (which if I were one of those players who faced The Can that day, I would be paying him a visit for putting my livelihood on the line for a stupid – sorry, kids – high) and told the world that he wasn’t thankful to Jackie Robinson because he was influenced by the Negro Leagues, style and language.

(I threw the second one in there myself, but no one can prove that unlike Kobe Bryant’s “borrowing” Michael Jordan’s voice and verbal patterns, Can borrowed everything he could from Satchel Paige that he could.

Satch was a colorful orator, so he could have ripped off worse).

Back to the point: He said he wasn’t thankful to Jackie Robinson, and almost no one batted an eyelash. Everybody just let that take a pass as if it were one of those jokes in an African-American comic’s routine that machine-guns triple digit N words in two minutes, and calls it “okay” because Black people can say it.

How could someone who got multiple death threats and was treated with the utmost disdain from teammates and opponents alike be reviled because his success in the Major Leagues was arguably one of the cogs that caused the disintegration of the Negro Leagues?

Doing several interviews with Negro League ballplayers, no one’s goal was to ever see the Negro Leagues vanish, but there was the goal, to a man, to match up with the White ballplayers, whether it was on a Major League or Negro League field. It was church, the opera, etc. to Black folks back in that day, so watching the Negro Leagues vanish was painful for many reasons.

He also put together the fracture of the Negro Leagues to the diminishing of the modern Black player and how most of them are now in jail. Was this Oil Can being Oil Can, or should there have been a Dixie cup available and maybe a do-over at a later date? Baseball did their damage in influencing more young African-Americans to play the game all by themselves, and I doubt Black ballplayers went to jail. Don’t you?

Was it that the comments came from Oil Can Boyd that we have no problem with someone stomping the grave of Jackie Robinson? Was it his bravado of telling the sports world that he ingested a Rogues Gallery of drugs that gave him the free pass of dissing an American hero, let alone an African-American hero?

Now in retrospect, Oil Can Boyd with his high leg kick and violent throwing motion to home plate brings back the memory of Satchel Paige and other Negro League pitchers with the same throwing motion, but does it give him the right to ask us to question the one man who cleared the path for him to be Oil Can Boyd, possible Game 7 pitcher in the 1986 World Series if not for a weather postponement? He said he missed the individualism the Negro Leagues allowed to exude, and the fact that more people know Oil Can Boyd than Dennis Boyd, squashes that point.

I’m not sure how brave it is to spill the beans on one’s own drug habit, especially decades after one’s last relevance, but shame on you who didn’t fill this page with disappointment over misguided words figuratively kicking in the teeth of Jackie Robinson.

Shame, right?