The Angels' Torii Hunter is under fire for comments he made to USA Today recently, in which he called dark-skinned Latino players "imposters." I couldn't believe it when I heard about it. I don't know Torii Hunter but I can't see him saying something like that.
Well, let's take a look at what he actually said:
"People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they're African-American. They're not us. They're impostors. Even people I know come up and say: 'Hey, what color is Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a black player?' I say, 'Come on, he's Dominican. He's not black.' As African-American players, we have a theory that baseball can go get an imitator and pass them off as us. It's like they had to get some kind of dark faces, so they go to the Dominican or Venezuela because you can get them cheaper. It's like, 'Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?' ... I'm telling you, it's sad."[ESPNChicago.com]
Obviously a poor choice of words. But is what he saying correct? Well, yes. For the most part, it is cheaper to sign Latino players than African American players. Ozzie Guillen did try to refute Hunter's comments by, among other things referring to Aroldis Chapman who was signed for millions of dollars. However, that's only one player out of hundreds of others who will never see more than that proverbial bag of chips.
But, back to the question of color. Hunter would have done better if he used the word "imposter" as a verb, because that is what is happening really. Teams are "impostering" Latino players. The players themselves are innocent in this matter. In fact, if a lot of them knew that that teams thought of them as black, they'd be highly insulted. My experience has taught me that dark-skinned Latino people hate, absolutely HATE being referred to as black. Believe me, it is true. I've witnessed many an argument and fight about it. By the same token, I've heard many a non-Latino fan refer to dark-skinned Latino players as being black.
I wish Hunter had expressed himself more clearly. I wish he had chosen better words, because in my opinion, he is absolutely right.