Howard Bryant, Ricky Henderson, Baseball discussed on Bloomberg Business of Sports


Writer Howard Bryant. He released his tenth book Ricky. The life and legend of an American original on baseball legend Ricky Henderson, bless will talk with him about the current state of the game coming out of the all star break and heading toward the trade deadline. I am excited for our conversation with Howard Bryant, his book on Ricky Henderson really goes beyond the blockbuster numbers that Ricky put up in his long career. It touches on his impact. It really digs into his impact in terms of diversity and sports as a black athlete and his impact on player salaries, which is fascinating, 'cause he was really ahead of his time. He's also in a group of legendary athletes that played in the Bay Area, which made me think of one of our own here at Bloomberg. Seth Magdalene Seth is a producer who has a very unique background in baseball, especially in the Bay Area. Seth produced a documentary called the Bay Area black aces. And I want to bring him into the program. Seth, welcome to the show. Tell us a little bit about your background and baseball. I started out in baseball in the late 80s and took that all the way to Bloomberg where I was producing the sports business show portfolio when I first joined the network. You wrote and produced a documentary called the Bay Area black aces that won the Northern California and the award as the best sports program in 2004. And the decade before that, you didn't mention you actually worked for the a's organization during Rickey Henderson's second tour of duty and that that will be important later on. I want you to explain to us a little bit about the premise of your documentary Bay Area black aces because Ricky Henderson is not a pitcher, but he's certainly a Bay Area superstar. The black aces concept was generated by one of the 12 African American pitchers in history to win 20 games in a season to be an ace, and that was Jim mudcat grant, who pitched in the 1950 60s and 70s. And back in the early 2000s, he was promoting the fact that this was an exclusive baseball club. And baseball is all about numbers and clubs, right? The 500 home run club, the 3000 hit club. And to that point in the early 2000s, there had only been 12 black pitchers to win 20 games. And mudcat really wanted that to become a thing. And what I noticed, and I had been working in the Bay Area, is that of those 12, four were Bay Area pitchers who pitched for the Giants in the a's. I know there are people who'd like to make that a trivia question, but it was Sam Jones of the Giants was the first, then via the blue, then a fellow named Mike Norris, who figures very much in Ricky Henderson's career as Howard Bryant, Howard Bryant's book makes clear. And then Dave Stewart. And so my documentary was about what made it possible for this concentration in one in one city to take place. And that actually since then, there have been two more in the club. CC Sabathia, who grew up in Vallejo and dontrell Willis who grew up in Alameda, California. So it's really kind of a remarkable cluster. As a child of baseball cards, I have my vital blue baseball card. But again, like you said, it was rare to see a black pitcher. You know, for every bob Gibson, there were not a lot of people who were and even bob Gibson and every one of them really had to fight to get taken seriously in that role. And unfortunately, now with the way baseball has evolved, we're probably not going to see 20 game winners very often anyway. And so it's interesting. That category may kind of go to history, but certainly the issue of race and baseball with participation now this year down under I think it's 7.2% of players on big league rosters are black and that's down from a high of 35 in the mid 1970s. So I think about that. How much has changed? You talked about how four of those pictures were from the Bay Area teams, or were playing for barrier teams and grew up in the Bay Area at the east bay specifically. Economic clusters is something we talk about a lot in business, right? Silicon Valley has a lot of engineers and because there's a lot of work opportunities for them. You have more developing in the region as well. Why is it from where you sit and from what you've observed do we have this precipitous drop off in black baseball players? Yeah, there's a lot of studies on that. One is just in general where the culture has gone that football and basketball have overtaken baseball in general in the culture as and now soccer is really close behind and I think those games are perceived at those sports are perceived as being more friendly. They take less with baseball, you know, you need more players, not from football, but certainly from basketball. You know, you can play three on three basketball and get really good and you can't play three on three baseball. Right. Lack of fields, lack of mentors, those factors have certainly been discussed. And to some degree, I think, you know, just lack of a welcoming feeling in the game. Also, lack of college scholarships, a lot more players now in baseball come out of college and fewer players who get college scholarships or from the black community. So it's really complex. But undeniable. Seth, you are the man. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. We really do appreciate it. So nice to join you, thanks. Thank you, Seth. Up next on the show more baseball author and ESPN senior writer Howard Bryant joins us to talk everything in LB plus

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