As Major League Baseball prepares to honor its place in history at Saturday's Civil Rights Game in Cincinnati, perhaps it is time MLB also paid respect to the man responsible for this annual event.
No, it is not MLB vice president Jimmie Lee Solomon, no matter how many times Bud Selig says otherwise this weekend. It's Dave Chase, the former Triple-A Memphis Redbirds general manager who first dreamed up the idea of a Civil Rights Game on his drive home from the ballpark and then worked tirelessly with MLB (and Solomon, in particular) to make it a reality.
Yes, Solomon had Selig's ear. And without Solomon pushing MLB brass for its approval, the Civil Rights Game likely wouldn't have become an event so popular that big league clubs are now lining up to host it.
But something seems a little disingenuous that on a weekend MLB honors its role in the civil rights movement, it ignores the one played by Chase in creating what MLB now touts as one of its signature events.
You won't hear Dave Chase's name uttered at any of this weekend's events—not tonight's round-table discussion on the Civil Rights Movement, not tomorrow afternoon's Beacon Awards luncheon and not tomorrow evening's ballgame. All three, it should be noted, were Chase's ideas.
Instead of being given VIP treatment, Chase is driving with a friend from Memphis through the Kentucky mountains—stopping tonight to catch a Bowling Green Hot Rods game—before arriving in Cincinnati tomorrow. The Reds should be commended for reaching out to Chase this spring after learning last year of his role in the game's creation. He will be a guest of the
But shouldn't Chase be a part of this weekend's celebration and not just another spectator?
"I have zero role," said Chase, a former publisher of Baseball America. "I am a guest of the Reds. MLB doesn't have much to say to me about it."
That's a shame. Chase worked with Solomon to bring the Civil Rights Game to Memphis in the spring of 2007, an exhibition between the Indians and Cardinals at
"I think it is something that everyone needs to see," Sabathia said at the time of the museum. "I called home and talked to my wife about it and told her that as soon as my (3-year-old) son is old enough to understand that stuff, we're coming back."
The game only came back to Memphis for one more year. Despite Chase's protests, MLB pulled the game out Memphis—citing lackluster ticket sales (partially a result of poor weather) and few local sponsors as the reasons. Chase says MLB was partially to blame for the event's troubles, while Solomon says it gave Memphis every chance to make it a success and bad luck ultimately doomed it.
The truth is that both parties probably share the fault for the game's off-field failures in Memphis. And whether or not MLB was correct to pull the Civil RIghts Game out of Memphis (it would be difficult to call last year's debut in Cincinnati anything but a success) should not prevent it from rightfully honoring Chase as one of the event's founders.
"I've come to terms with it," Chase said of the Civil Rights Game leaving Memphis and his lack of a role in it. "I've received half a dozen e-mails from people, asking me about the game and if I'm going. It's nice to be remembered, but at the same level it is a mixed-bag of emotions."
Chase has nothing but praise for last year's event, which played before a sold out crowd, honored
"I think by having it as a regular season game, they did a marvelous presentation that I thought tied in the Civil Rights Movement with the game," said Chase, who also attended last year's game. "They had a huge banner with year-by-year details of the civil rights movement. And they did a great job with the Beacon Awards. It's not what I was looking for when I created the Civil Rights Game. I wanted to honor modern players who gave back to the game, not mega celebrities. But if it gets the word out, then I'm all for it."
Perhaps its Chase's turn to win a Beacon Award. He deserves it.
Comments will be monitored prior to being added to the site. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be rejected. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed.
We have chosen to open up commenting to everyone, so comment away! We want to hear from each and every one of you! Leave a comment.
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog