“I think a lot of kids would love baseball, but they don’t even get a chance to try it at a young age because of the price,” said Ke’Bryan Hayes, the rookie third baseman. of the Pirates and the son of longtime Major Leaguer Charlie Hayes.
“It all comes down to introducing these kids to play at a very young age,” continued Hayes, 24. “By the time you get to college or high school, it’s too late to try and learn baseball because it’s one of the most difficult sports. Growing up, I played with a bunch of kids who were really really good, but they couldn’t afford to go to this D-1 college. In some of these schools, even if you get a 40 or 50 percent scholarship, your parents will still have to try to pay $ 20,000 or $ 30,000 a year to continue.
As his career progresses, Hayes said, he hopes to help create opportunities for underprivileged children to play football. He said he was encouraged by some of baseball’s efforts, citing the Players’ Alliance and the Breakthrough Series, a hope camp for players of color funded by MLB and USA Baseball.
But as of now, it’s unclear how much the sport has lost, in on-court excitement and off-court appeal, by losing so many black talent.
“It made it more competitive,” Parker said. “By playing against other black players, we didn’t give them any slack. We went out, we didn’t compromise. I would take Ozzie Smith down left field with a slide, if I could have it. We just enjoyed the competition and we loved each other.