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Ian Desmond has an important announcement to make.
Taking to Instagram, the Colorado Rockies outfielder told fans that he will not be participating in the 2020 MLB season due to coronavirus concerns. In his message, Desmond explained that his decision came from his vision of revamping his hometown Little League team in Sarasota, Fla. after discovering that the organization was “not in great shape” and wanting to be closer to home for his family’s sake.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking,” he shared. “But that doesn’t mean I’m leaving baseball behind for the year. I’ll be right here, at my old Little League, and I’m working with everyone involved to make sure we get Sarasota Youth Baseball back on track. It’s what I can do, in the scheme of so much. So, I am.”
He continued, “With a pregnant wife and four young children who have lots of questions about what’s going on in the world, home is where I need to be right now.”
“Home for my wife, Chelsey,” Desmond concluded. “Home to help. Home to guide. Home to answer my older three boys’ questions about Coronavirus and Civil Rights and life. Home to be their dad.”
This news comes after several MLB players have announced that they will not be returning for this year’s season in response to the pandemic. Among them are Washington National first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross, as well as Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Mike Leake.
In addition to updating his fans, Desmond, who is bi-racial, opened up about how recent events have affected him, beginning with the death of George Floyd in May.
“A few weeks ago, I told the social media world a little bit about me that I never talk about. I started it by saying why that was: I don’t like sadness and anger,” the two-time All-Star explained. “I’d found an even keel allowed me to move through my days with more ease than emotion did. So, I kept it inside. But that comes at an internal cost, and I could no longer keep a lid on what I was feeling.”
He continued, “The image of officer Derek Chauvin‘s knee on the neck of George Floyd, the gruesome murder of a Black man in the street at the hands of a police officer, broke my coping mechanism. Suppressing my emotions became impossible.”
Desmond then detailed his past experiences with racism while recalling a moment that took place during his high school baseball games.
“Another memory hit me: My high school teammates chanting ‘White Power!’ before games,” the athlete wrote. “We would say the Lord’s prayer and put our hands in the middle so all the white kids could yell it. Two Black kids on the whole team sitting in a stunned silence the white players didn’t seem to notice.”
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After reflecting, Desmond called for communities to make baseball more accessible to underprivileged youth in order to provide them with the same tools and sense of belonging that his childhood teams did.
“If baseball is America’s pastime, maybe it’s never been a more fitting on than now,” he continued. “Why can’t we support teaching the game to all kids – but especially those in underprivileged communities? Why aren’t accessible, affordable youth sports viewed as an essential opportunity to affect kids’ development, as opposed to money-making propositions and recruiting chances?”
“I had the most heartbreak and the most fulfillment right there on those fields – in the same exact place,” he added. “I felt the hurt of racism, the loneliness of abandonment, and so many other emotions. But I also felt the triumph of success. The love of others. The support of a group of men pulling for each other and picking on another up as a team.”