Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Negro Leagues Draft?

A story today from AP had this headline: "MLB plans to hold ceremonial draft of living Negro Leagues players."

The only reaction to something like that is, "What?!?"

Here's the rest of the story

NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball will hold a ceremonial draft of living former Negro Leagues players before its annual amateur draft June 6.

Those selected will represent Negro Leaguers players who didn't have the chance to play for major league teams, the commissioner's office said Tuesday. MLB was not sure how many former Negro Leagues players are living.

Now, I'm all in favor of giving the Negro leagues more press and all, but... what?

So I visited MLB.com and read their story, and I was still scratching my head until I got to the real gist of the story:

Each team will compensate the player it selects with a stipend, Solomon said. Major League Baseball will pick up the travel expenses for each player (and a companion) to the Draft headquarters in Orlando.

OK, now it's starting to make sense. At least 30 elderly Negro league veterans are going to get some money from Major League Baseball as compensation for the wrongs of earlier regimes. Since the Negro leagues shut down about 50 years ago, any surviving veteran is at least 70 years old, and they could use the money.

Still, this strikes me as a publicity stunt. (Wait, publicity stunt, Bud Selig... now that's a surprise.) If MLB really wanted to do something for old Negro leaguers, how about a true retirement package for ALL living players? How about putting money into the Negro leagues museum in Kansas City?

I guess I should be happy that they're doing something, but this just doesn't pass the smell test with me.

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