White Sox player/scouting director cites people, players who have made lasting impact
Special to MLB.com |
Del Matthews serves as the assistant director of player developing and scouting for the White Sox. He also is the son of Gary Matthews and brother of Gary Matthews, Jr., who both carved out successful big league careers. These are his thoughts on Black History Month, as told to MLB.com's Scott Merkin:
CHICAGO -- African-American history is a rich part of this country's history.
Every culture, ethnicity or race wants to know about the history of their people and the success stories. It teaches not only African Americans but other people in our culture and in our society about the things that African Americans had to go through and endure in order to get to the point to where we are today, and how the country has gotten better because of some of these things. It's not different from other cultures that have had to endure harsh pains.
It's educational. When you talk about Dr. Martin Luther King, who is celebrated all across the country on Martin Luther King Day, but probably one of the most impactful African Americans in the African-American history. As it connects to baseball, with Jackie Robinson and the things he was able to do.
I've heard countless Hank Aaron stories from my dad and from my godfather, Dusty [Baker]. It's just amazing what he had to go through and how he was able to accomplish what he did with all the hate mail and just day in and day out, given what our country was at that time and people not wanting to see him break Babe Ruth's record. It's just truly remarkable.
There are countless guys. Buck O'Neil, Larry Doby, Josh Gibson, Bob Gibson, Willie Mays, obviously. Although Minnie Minoso was Cuban and not American, but he was a black Cuban. Frank Robinson, with what he had to go through and the player that he was.
Buck O'Neil has been extremely influential, for me, as I've had a chance to learn about him and his contribution to African-American history and baseball. Specifically because I grew up in the game of baseball, and learned about the Negro Leagues and the players in the Negro Leagues, O'Neil and the rich soul that this man had, the kindness and everything that he did for black scouts, players and front office types was extraordinary. His love and his passion for people, for me, is what really speaks volumes about his life and his legacy. Buck was a great man and he absolutely loved baseball.
You think of Muhammad Ali and what he went through and his greatness as an athlete. You think about Jesse Owens and his success and Joe Louis, all these incredible athletes. It's great to recognize the athletes but other influential dignitaries in our history that weren't athletes such as Frederick Douglass, Maya Angelou or Thurgood Marshall all have had a lasting impact in African-American culture and our country as a whole.
All should be recognized and learned about. Kids and future generations have the opportunity to come along and aspire to walk in their footsteps. It makes you proud to be African American when you are looking at people from your culture and race that have accomplished such great things and have done it with dignity and respect and are recognized by people all over the world.