October 09, 2007

Red Sox overcome racist history

Breaking throughMany Americans coast to coast have heard that 24-year-old Jacoby Ellsbury made baseball history June 30 by becoming the first Navajo to play in Major League Baseball.

Perhaps what makes the speedster's accomplishment more significant is that the ball club he's playing for has a questionable history when it comes to diversity. Ellsbury broke a barrier with the Boston Red Sox, an organization littered with a history of racial prejudice.
How things have changed: "I was watching TV one time and I saw (that he was the first Navajo)," said 15-year-old India Bell, of Bridgton, Maine. "That's very cool."

Award-winning baseball writer Peter Gammons said Ellsbury's emergence, along with that of New York Yankee and Winnebago Indian Jaba Chamberlain, are great for the sport.

"Especially because (Jacoby) is such a good person, I would hope he and Jaba really push a lot of kids to try to make the big leagues," Gammons said.
But the more things change...Emily McCabe Allison, Art's wife, said the family has encountered a considerable amount of ignorance from the media, however. According to Allison, past features on Jacoby have linked his family to the wrong tribe, also printing inaccurate stereotypes.

For example, one story incorrectly reported Ellsbury's mother as a rug weaver, prompting a flurry of rug orders from strangers.

"She doesn't know the first thing about weaving," Emily said. "These reporters think we're all still herders. ... There are writers who are going to go about it wrong, and it just doesn't come out right."

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