Peppercom’s Chicago office (namely, Trish Hoban) and I attended Thursday night’s White Sox-Indians
game in the sweltering heat of Chi-town’s South Side.
As I sweated through inning after inning of an eventual Tribe victory, I noticed the names of White Sox heroes whose numbers had been retired in tribute to their greatness (Nellie Fox, Luis Aparicio, etc.). I also happened to notice a tribute to Jackie Robinson, whose number 42 has been permanently retired by every team in MLB as a tribute to the first Black ballplayer in the game’s history.
And, that got me thinking. If Jack Roosevelt Robinson’s number is retired (and, it should be), why isn’t the same tribute being given to the first major league Asian, American Indian, Latino, etc? Why is it politically correct for us to honor Jackie Robinson, but not, say, Fernando Valenzuela (who was among the first Mexican ballplayers in MLB)? And what about Aparicio or Minnie Minoso, who were among the first Latin ballplayers? Or, digging deep in the recesses of my personal baseball trivia library, why hasn’t Albert ‘Chief’ Bender’s number been honored? The Chief was a formidable pitcher and among the very first American Indians to play at the major league level.
It seems to me this is one of those ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ situations that MLB would rather not address. But, I’m asking: “So, what about Fernando? When will his number be honored?"