LADY AT THE BAT: What BJ Upton Means (To Scoop Jackson)

Friday, October 17, 2008

What BJ Upton Means (To Scoop Jackson)

There's an essay on today about Rays Centerfielder BJ Upton, about how he's the new face of "urban" baseball. Scoop Jackson talks about Upton being someone African-American kids in inner cities can look up to because, as Jackson puts it, Upton is the one player in the game today that they "can see themselves in. The one they can see themselves as."

Jackson says kids can see themselves in and as Upton because of "his style, his slight build, his mannerisms, his persona, his presence, his swag." Also, the fact that he exhibits laziness (not running out ground balls and making errors in the field) shows that he's not perfect and, that makes him perfect in the eyes of children in places like East St Louis or Oakland, because they can say to themselves, "I'm not perfect either, but look, he's still standing."

As an African-American woman who is concerned about the decrease in numbers of African-American players in MLB, I understand excactly what Scoop Jackson is talking about in this essay. But, I'm not sure if BJ Upton is The Chosen One, as Scoop Jackson seems to think. I've never met BJ, but from what I've read and heard, he's the furthest thing from "hood" you can get. From what I've been able to piece together, and I'm not sure if I have all the fact right, BJ Upton grew up in a loving, suburban Virginia home in which both parents were present. His mother taught high school (One of her students was the Twins Michael Cuddyer.). His father was a sports referee. He attended a private school, Greenbrier Christian Academy. In the interviews I've seen him do there is no trace of "hood" in his voice.

Of course, this is all off-the-field stuff. I suppose that, if kids only see his on-the-field persona, they could identify with him. But I don't think they'd see themselves in him anymore if they watched him being interviewed after a game or if he were on the Budweiser Hot Seat, or something. They'd be better off listening to Torii Hunter, who I don't believe for a minute is looking to BJ to be the one player "who can bring the game back to the hood in a way no other young black player in the game has been able to do," as Jackson put it. Torii Hunter is that player, Scoop, not BJ. Do you really think that the guy in the photo above is that person? Lol!

BJ Upton is having a great postseason and I'm really happy for him. He's getting a chance to show the rest of baseball what AL East fans already know: That he's a five-tool player with a bright future ahead of him.



Kevin said...

Excellent post. I enjoy reading your blog. Hopefully players like BJ Upton, along with the players like Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and CC Sabathia are signs of rebirth of baseball in the African-American community.

Bernadette Pasley said...

Thanks for reading!