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After summer awakening, MLB players are taking their efforts to the streets

“On Saturday afternoon, a black tractor-trailer truck will rumble from one down-and-out neighborhood in Baltimore to another down-and-out neighborhood in Washington, a journey about baseball and the Black experience. The final month of 2020 is here, and thank the high heavens for that. But with that truck will come the reminders of what has happened and what’s still left to do.


“We’re having conversations that we never would have had three years ago,” Curtis Granderson said.

When Granderson retired in January after a 16-year major league career, he could not have envisioned the breadth and depth of those conversations. He could not have envisioned, so soon in his post-playing career, being tapped as the president of the Players Alliance, a nonprofit organization of more than 150 current and former Black big leaguers determined to take the discussions that began in 2020 and carry them forward. The group aims to change the way baseball looks, the way it thinks, the way it hires, the way it’s developed.

The truck making its stop in Southeast will have stopped earlier in the Bronx and Brooklyn, in Philadelphia and Baltimore. It will head on to Hampton, Va., and beyond — some three dozen stops between this week and the end of January. With this unprecedented and, in so many ways, unbelievable year coming to a close, it would be easy to put the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the shooting of Jacob Blake — and all the rest that led to all the unrest — into some sort of box, label it “2020,” and sink it to the bottom of the ocean. It’s over. Let’s forget it.

The Players Alliance says it doesn’t want to do that.

“The biggest thing is that it’s 2020, almost the end of it, and the conversations we’re having and that are being had now have not been had in my whole entire baseball career, all those years,” Granderson said by phone this week. “Most of the people I speak to — current players, scouts, front-office people — all said very similar things, that none of this was talked about.

“So it’s crazy to see how it’s all come to this situation. It’s unfortunate because of what happened this summer. But because of it, it’s given the ability for large groups of people to have conversations that we’ve needed to have.” “

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