Little League team forced to practice in secrecy
The Palma Ceia Little League Minor B Rangers have gone into hiding to practice for the upcoming season due to the DeSantis administration’s recent efforts to suppress Black history education initiatives.
“I don’t think it necessarily qualifies as Black history,” said Rangers head coach Greg Sanders. “But I guess you really can’t be too careful these days.”
It started when Sanders tried to correct some fundamental shortcomings by his team.
“My guys weren’t being disciplined at the plate which made them prone to striking out,” he said. “I just pointed out that Tony Gwynn averaged less than 22 strikeouts a season over his career. By comparison, last season 129 Major Leaguers had struck out 22 times by the end of April.”
“I just wanted them to be more like Tony Gwynn and less like Kyle Schwarber who struck out 200 times last year, that’s all,” he added.
An unidentified parent of some kid on an opposing team heard about it and brought the matter of Tony Gwynn having been a Black player to the attention of the league.
“We’re a youth sports league, not a political organization. One of our coaches promoting a Hall of Famer as a role model would normally be something we’d encourage,” said league secretary Bill Flannelsworth. “But then you hear about Duval County removing 176 books from school libraries, including one about the great Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash trying to bring relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua in 1972, and you think, ‘well, shit’.”
“Oops, am I allowed to describe Clemente as ‘great’?” he said. “Regardless, we’re not trying to get shut down, so we told him to cool it.”
As a result, the Rangers have gone into hiding, practicing at various locations in Tampa that have formed an underground network of sorts where the existence of Black people is tolerated.
Sanders said he appreciates the efforts of those providing safe haven for him and his team, but still doesn’t understand why it’s necessary.
“It’s not like I was talking to them about Jackie Robinson,” he said.