On October 10, 1964, the late Mickey Mantle led off in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 3 of the World Series. The score was tied at 1-1, and the Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals were tied at one game each. Barney Schultz was pitching for the Redbirds. Tim McCarver was calling signals behind the plate.
A knuckleball specialist pitching in his first ever World Series, Schultz had just been summoned into the game by St. Louis manager Johnny Keane.
Mantle deposited Schultz's first pitch into the third tier of the old Yankee Stadium.
In accepting the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting during the Second Annual Hall of Fame Awards Presentation this afternoon in Cooperstown, New York, McCarver, the longtime Fox Baseball analyst, got off the line of the day when he told the crowd at Doubleday Field what he remembered about that homerun.
Watching Mantle round the bases McCarver was reflective. "As a catcher," he said, " I have never been prouder than seeing a pitch that I called travel that far a distance,"
The crowd at Doubleday roared with delight. But it was another McCarver observation that really got the audience's attention.
According to McCarver, three decades ago the number of African-Americans in the major leagues was at an all-time high. Twenty-eight percent of the players in The Show were African-Americans. Today, he indicated, only eight percent of all the men playing in the big leagues are African-Americans.
"We need to increase African-American participation in baseball," McCarver contended.
McCarver doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk too. He recently made a significant monetary donation to help build a new baseball facility in his native Tennessee so that inner-city youth and disadvantaged children will be afforded the opportunity to play baseball. While that certainly is commendable, I doubt that it will be successful.
The Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) Program has been attempting to remedy this since 1989.
And yet, the numbers are what they are. What can be done over and above what has already been done since the inception of RBI 23 years ago?
Seems to me that basketball and football have long been acknowledged as an African-American teenager's ticket out of poverty. Frankly, I just don't see that changing anytime soon. No matter how well intended cerebral thinkers such as Tim McCarver may be.
Bob Elliott, the first Canadian to ever win the Baseball Writers Association of America's JG. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing, was also honored at today's ceremonies.
(Doug Gladstone is a Contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.)
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