Baseball, Latino America’s pastime, faces new challenges in age of Trump

(Jose Altuve, right, of Venezuela helped the Astros to the World Series last season. Photograph: Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Karina Moreno and Mike Elk went down to spring training in Bradenton, Florida to file this dispatch for the Guardian:

For nearly 130 years, young men like Astudillo have been trying to break into the big leagues in baseball at spring training – their annual chance to impress the owners of Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs, and for the fans a chance to check out talent before the season’s opening on Thursday.

The 26-year-old Astudillo, a career .311 hitter, has been a star of the minor leagues, which act as training grounds for the big teams, for the last few years and is hoping for a permanent spot with the Twins this year.

But this year there’s a cloud over baseball. And as players prepare for the new season, Astudillo says that in the clubhouse, one subject is on the mind of his fellow Latino ball players – Trump’s immigration policies.

“We are conscious of everything happening, and the situation this country is currently in. It is regrettable,” said Astudillo as he took a swig of water in the Twins’ dugout. He’s particularly worried about Trump’s much-litigated travel ban that includes some people from Venezuela.

Baseball has long played a key role in conversations on racial equality in the United States. Jackie Robinson integrated the Major Leagues nearly eight years before Brown v Board of Education integrated public schools.

At a time when immigrants are under attack, “America’s pastime”, a third of whose players are Latino, could play a key role in helping to overcome barriers to racial equality for immigrants.

To read more, go to the Guardian. 


About the Author

Mike Elk
A protege of the late William Greider, Mike Elk is a Sidney award winning labor reporter and the founder of Payday Report. He worked extensively as a correspondent for The Guardian. In 2016, he used his $70,000 NLRB settlement from being fired in the union drive at Politico to start the crowd-funded Payday Report while living in Chattanooga. The son of United Electrical Workers (UE) Director of Organization Gene Elk, he now lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh.

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