MLB Network MLK Day Special To Focus On Black Representation In Baseball
EXCLUSIVE: Black representation in baseball will be the focus of MLB Tonight: A Conversation, which MLB Network will air on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, at 5 p.m. ET.
Hosted by MLB Network analyst and former player Harold Reynolds, the show will feature new interviews with Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker and Atlanta Braves coach Ron Washington. Also on the guest list is Michael Bourn, a two-time All-Star and member of the Players Alliance, a group of 100 current and former players pursuing opportunities for the Black community in baseball and society. King himself played a role in the formation of the alliance. Also due to appear are former manager Jerry Manuel and Players Alliance member Cameron Maybin.
(Watch a clip featuring Baker, Manuel and Washington above.)
The MLK show is an edition of a recurring show created by the network in June 2020 in the wake of widespread protests against racial injustice. The goal of it, according to the network, is to “generate candid discussion about racial injustice and inequality in society and baseball.”
Top 2022 MLB Draft prospects Elijah Green, Termarr Johnson and Kassius Thomas will also discuss their rise in baseball as Black athletes. They will discuss takeaways from taking part in the Dream Series, an annual showcase event focused on the dynamics of pitching and catching. Participants in the Dream Series, held during the MLK holiday weekend, are a diverse group of high school elite athletes. This year, the event is happening virtually due to Covid safety concerns.
On a larger level, of course, activity in general for Major League Baseball as it heads into the usual spring training window is in a state of uncertainty. A labor impasse between owners and players has created a host of questions about the start to the season, though initial talks between the parties have been reported this month.
The three African-American coaches will relive their experiences in baseball during the MLB Network program. “It’s about opportunity,” Baker says on the show. “If I hadn’t had a couple of people in the Braves organization – mainly Hank Aaron – from the very, very start that liked me and liked my ability. They treated me like a number one [pick] because Hank Aaron saw something in me that a lot of other people didn’t see.”