Hey everyone! I am going to try something different in an effort to raise money for the Torii Hunter Project. I am going to do a series of raffles this season on my website and all the proceeds will go towards helping kids in need via the Torii Hunter Project. I am going to start with a game used autographed bat and if all goes well and we raise some good money I will do something bigger and better each month.
Hey everyone, check out the Season Debut of Hangin with Mr. Hunter that aired
last week with Red Sox 1B David Ortiz”
in to Angels Pre and Post Game Shows on Fox Sports West to check it out all
For a couple of years now, people have been talking about the decline of the African-American player in Major League Baseball. The sport has made it a priority to get inner-city kids interested and involved in the game again, and the players have also done their part. I have the Torii Hunter Project, CC Sabathia has his, Jimmy Rollins has his thing going, Derrek Lee. Guys are doing what they can to get inner-city kids back into the game.
This is important to us, because it’s our heritage. Back in the days of the Negro Leagues, baseball was huge for African-Americans. They played in front of 20,000, 30,000 fans. Everybody was all dressed up, men in suits, women in dresses, everybody looking fine and having a great time.
The last 10 years we’ve seen a decline in African-Americans in the Majors, but there are signs it’s coming back around. Two years ago it was on its way to 7 percent African-American representation in the Major Leagues, but now it’s up to 10, 11 percent. That’s encouraging. It tells me these programs and projects are starting to work.
This series with the Dodgers is especially exciting for me. I’m always into the game — I don’t hide my love of playing baseball — but this Interleague series is definitely special. I look over at the other side of the field and see Russell Martin, Matt Kemp, Orlando Hudson, James Loney, Juan Pierre, Cory Wade. And Xavier Paul just went on the disabled list. That’s a lot of African-Americans on one team.
Over in our clubhouse, we’ve got Chone Figgins, Howard Kendrick, Darren Oliver, Gary Matthews Jr. and myself. It really feels good to see African-Americans playing the game and showing kids how they can have long, productive careers — and make a lot of money in this sport.
Like anything worthwhile, it’s never easy. It takes a lot of mental toughness. It’s a humbling game with a lot of failure involved. But it’s worth all the time and effort, believe me. I signed when I was 17, and I’m signed through 37 years old. That means I’ll have 20 years in the game, at least. How many guys do that in the NFL and NBA?
Last year it was the Angels, Rays and Brewers who had the highest percentage of African-Americans, but it looks to me like it’s the Dodgers and Angels now. Two L.A. teams, playing an exciting brand of baseball — old-school style. We go first to third, run the bases hard, play great defense. We compete..
I will have a big smile on my face tonight. I feel a lot of pride in what I’m seeing. I want inner-city kids to understand how great this game is, how you don’t have to have a 40-inch vertical leap or be able to run through a building to play baseball. You need desire, a strong work ethic, and you have to know how to handle failure and adversity.
The game is getting back to speed, moving away from all the focus being on power. You see how important the stolen base is again, with guys like Carl Crawford and Figgy. Heck, I’ve even got eight bags. Bobby Abreu is stealing bases.
This is the game our grandparents and their parents grew up loving. Knowing everything the Dodgers have represented for bringing Jackie Robinson and Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella into the game and breaking down that color barrier, I’m so happy to see the team they’re putting on the field now.
I’m always excited to play the game and never take for granted how fortunate I am. This is going to be a great weekend of baseball.
This is the start of what I hope will be long-running relationship with fans at MLB.com. I’m looking forward to passing along to you on a weekly basis my thoughts and ideas, insights into the game, my take on events of the day, whatever is relevant. I think it’s important to make a connection with fans and keep it, because that relationship is vital to the health of the game we all love.
I feel blessed to be in a position to represent a great game and a great organization. That’s why I’ll often use “we” in the blog, since I’ll be speaking in many respects for teammates, hoping to promote our game, get more people involved.
To get this going, we’d like to start with inviting you to help us create a name, a title, for this blog. We’re asking for suggestions in the comments bar at the bottom of the blog. This is going to be an interactive process, so we might as well get it moving in that direction right away.
I am thrilled to be wearing an Angels uniform, playing in a great environment with a first-class organization. My first year in Anaheim had some great moments with 100 wins, most in the Majors, even if it didn’t end the way we all wanted. This season we’ll try to deliver six winning months again along with a happier ending in October. I am convinced we have the talent and the drive to get it done. Now it’s just a matter of going out and doing it.
Before we get into that, though, I’d like to talk a little bit about one of my passions off the field: getting young people out of their houses and outside, using their imaginations and creativity the way I did as a kid growing up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, in some pretty rough circumstances.
I was always outside, using my athletic ability in some way in our neighborhoods. If I wasn’t playing catch with a baseball or football, I was riding a bike five miles to another neighborhood, then riding it back. I like to say I got my speed running from a dog, and I got my jumping ability leaping over a fence to get away from a dog. My throwing ability came from trying to hit trees with rocks. We were always outside competing in some way. It concerns me now that so few kids are doing that. Too many of our parks are empty, quiet.
With the technology we have today, too many kids are spending too much time playing video games, watching TV. It’s a fast-food culture, and it’s not good for our kids’ health. They need to be outside, developing their minds and their bodies in healthy ways. When I was a kid and wanted to be like Tony Dorsett or Andre Dawson or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, I’d be doing it on a sandlot or a playground. Now kids are doing it with video games, and it’s just not the same. We have all these kids who are obese, and it’s a function of society, of spending all this time sitting in their houses.
That’s why it’s been so important to me with the Torii Hunter Project to work with kids, to build Little League fields, get kids outside playing games. It might not get a kid to the Major Leagues or the NBA or NFL, but it’s going to make them healthier and more productive in their lives. Even my own kids try to stay inside, but I’ll close the door and lock it. I tell them to go outside and play a game, any game. Invent one if you have to, but do something. I don’t want my kids inside the house all day.
Well, that’s a start. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover in the weeks ahead, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
So, when you get a minute, use your imagination — it’s one of your best resources — and help us come up with a name for this blog.
I’ll check in next week, and hopefully by then we’ll have a title that we think represents what we’re trying to do here.
Stay active, and stay positive.
My best, Torii