Who you calling "racist"?

Joe doesn't take too kindly to a reader's taunts.

Ask a Mexican

Hey Joe: Why don't more black guys like hockey?

Dave Checketts, St. Louis

For the same reason baseball was abandoned — which prior, they caught nothing but "hockey," if you catch my drift, when first trying to break the color line. Though after basketball and football became available, they gravitated toward these fields. Additionally, they made big paydays in getting to the top by jumping from the ranks of high schools or colleges, rather than going through farm systems while earning less money and spending more time.

Hey Joe: A recent post on an online message board delivered a bit of a bitch-slap to Riverfront Times, questioning whether your column (as well as a similar column, "Ask a Mexican," which runs on the RFT's Web site) appears "for any reason other than sheer racism."

The poster also asked, "Does anyone — anywhere — find [the columns] funny?" Please discuss!

Heywood Jablowme, St. Louis

Thanks for being so complimentary. I find that you are quite smart. Thanks also for teaching me about the word "racism," or, in fact, "racist." It reminds me of the saying, "He who gives the mostest takes the leastest," or "One has to be one to know one."

I'm not familiar with "Ask a Mexican," but I do know that we are both in America's minority and didn't put ourselves there. Obviously, you don't know your history. History is the country's best educator — not Harvard, Yale nor any other supposedly elite university or college. It can't be argued against by any psychologists or any other so-called professional mind-probers. Knowledge is not confined to any certain group or individual. It is there for those who seek it. Apparently, you never have.

Take some time to delve into it, beginning with the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and you just might find how you got that false sense of superiority. Otherwise, you might be considered a "functional illiterate," or better yet a "dysfunctional literate." This is what your brief history concerning the online message board reveals to me about you. Your ignorance is exhibited in the manner which you promote your idea by begging for help elsewhere regarding "sheer racism" and what the poster asked, because you don't have the courage to stand up and speak for yourself. Ya dig? Do you find this funny?

Seemingly, the way you have expressed yourself shows you're guilt-filled over your own history — just the opposite of millions of open-minded people who understand they didn't make the rules. Or is it that you don't have a mind to open? It is your kind that fits the category of "I would rather keep my mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and to remove all doubt."

The "bitch-slap" you spoke of should be directed at your freaky character. The RFT exposed it, which is indicative of the combination of your first and last name — whether real or fictional. My answer to "Hey, would you blow me" is "U do me...I owe U 1!"

The section for letters stands ready for your reply. See how open-minded the RFT is?

Prince Joe Henry, one of professional baseball's original "clowns," was an all-star infielder for Negro League baseball teams in Memphis, Indianapolis and Detroit throughout the 1950s. But up until the late 1940s, Prince Joe didn't know anything about the Negro Leagues. His knowledge of organized baseball was limited to the Cardinals and Browns games he attended during his preteen years at Sportsman's Park, accompanied by lifelong buddy Eugene "Gene" Crittendon, who could pass for white.

Perhaps Henry's most vivid memory of those games: Upon entry, white ushers would politely escort the boys to a small section of the left-field stands reserved for "Colored." After climbing past several tiers of bleachers, they'd arrive at their stop, rows and rows behind their white counterparts.

Even at a young age, the boys were conscious of the double standard -- and determined to vent their disdain. The opportunity would arise with the urge to urinate. Rather than head for the latrine, the boys would edge their way to the front of the section and let fly. As the liquid foamed its way down the concrete steps toward the white kids, Henry and his pal would ease back and relax, politely rooting for the visiting team to beat the hell out of the Browns or the Cards.

After all, Henry and Crittendon hailed from Brooklyn, Illinois, a small, predominantly black township just east of the Mississippi River. So hospitable were the residents of Brooklyn that they were known to take in a rank stranger, treat him to breakfast, lunch, supper and a night out on the town -- and afterward, if he messed up, treat him to a good ass-whippin'.

Direct questions on any and all topics to [email protected]. If we don't like yours, we'll hit Joe with our own.

Scroll to read more Ask a Negro Leaguer articles (1)


Join Riverfront Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.