In a lengthy Instagram post on Monday night, Colorado Rockies infielder Ian Desmond told a story about returning to the Little League fields he played on as a child in Sarasota, Fla., and how the return to his past ultimately inspired him to sit out of the upcoming 2020 MLB season.
Though much of Desmond’s post centered on the part that baseball, his coaches, and his teammates played in his career and life, not all of the memories are happy. Desmond reminisces in the post about his white teammates chanting “white power” after their pregame huddle, and of being abandoned by his stepfather after a game. Yet the trip through Sarasota also made Desmond realize how hard it is for some to have those experiences, especially today as the wealth gap grows. Desmond also wrote that leagues like MLB don’t do enough to support young athletes.
“I got to experience (sports) because (the fields were) a place where baseball could be played by any kid who wanted,” Desmond writes. “It was there, it was affordable, and it was staffed by people who cared.”
Desmond then turns his attention to MLB, calling out the “labor war,” “racist, sexist, homophobic jokes,” and “cheating,” in addition to a huge diversity problem, with no Black owners, one Black GM, two Black managers, and Black players making up less than eight percent of the league.
“If baseball is America’s pastime, maybe it’s never been a more fighting one than now,” Desmond writes, comparing the systemic racism of broader American society to the mechanisms within MLB. As a biracial man, Desmond says he has hardly ever been comfortable as an MLB player, and wants to open doors for more underserved young athletes. Desmond will spend time when he would have been playing instead reinvigorating Sarasota Youth Baseball.