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I went to Major League Baseball's Civil Rights luncheon hosted by the Cincinnati Reds this past Saturday and enjoyed hearing the stories, in particular, from Willie Mays aka the Say Hey Kid. Please Google and read if you don't know about him, here's a good place to start:

http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/may0bio-1

Willie Mays like so many other sports pioneers seem to fall by the wayside because we don't keep their stories in the forefront. It got me to thinking about pioneers at UC; players of color who had to endure internal as well as external discrimination. In some cases women too. As we think of the success of modern day players at the University let us not forget the ones who dared to come here when it may not have been entirely encouraged. They endured the stares, glares and cowardly threats but chose to stay in the heat of the battle. And what is their reward? I don't think its to be recognized for what they did, I think their reward should be, to know they won't be forgotten as a piece of the equality puzzle.

At the luncheon I saw Chuck Harmon in his wheelchair smiling; others limping and yet others just struggling to "be there". As I get older I realize I'm fortunate that I got to see Muhammad Ali in his prime; Oscar Robertson, Frank Robinson, Jim Brown, John Carlos, Tommie Smith and others at their best. I pass along the stories to the youngsters who proclaim modern day superstars as the pinnacle of the sport without doing their homework. But its our job, those of us who know, to educate and encourage them to look back and read.

So let me take a moment to thank all pioneers who entered the University of Cincinnati when it wasn't comfortable to do so. You were sent here knowingly or unknowingly on a spiritual journey and I'm sure you wondered at times why; Well Mardy Gilyard is why; Lance Stephenson is why and even Antione Drakeford is why. When doors are opened, barriers broken down and opportunities seized, the flood follows the open gates. And young men and women of color and women in general can get a scholarship based on their grades and skills, realizing a quality education in the process.

With the minority enrollment at 14.4% (according to the University's web site) it is working; the bigger question is are the student athletes working? on and off the field. THAT would be the biggest payback they could give the pioneers who said give us a chance...

That's the way I see it sitting in The Box Seat...


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i used to enjoy your cincy sports call in show on wdbz.thanks for remembering the great say hey kid,willie mays.saw him display those 5 tools against my dodgers in brooklyn many,years ago.one year he cracked 9 dingers against,and batted nearly .500 against us for 22 games.hell,we used to give him standing ovations to calm him down.but,i its his defense which i remember most-he could have made the hof even if he'd never come to bat,or perhaps only been allowed to bat twice a game,to keep it "fair."
one day in ebbets field,he raced from his shallow position nearly behind second base,to catch a long drive to the deepest part of dead center in that old classic bandbox.after the game,the young vin scully observed that no.24 was truly off with "the crack of the bat".the slightly younger willie jauntingly replied-"mr.vinnie,if i'd been off with the crack of the bat,it would have hit off the top of the wall for a double."
willie mays was the best baseball player i ever saw in real life.i doubt anybody ever saw his "first step" until he was past 60.he hit over 50 homers twice-a decade apart-ditto his two mvps came in different sports generations-1954,1965.but you had to see the "say hey" kid play center field to believe it.thanks,again.