Hunter: Black Latino Players "Impostors"

Minnesota Twins outfielder Torii Hunter pauses while speaking to reporters about Kirby Puckett before an exhibition game against the New York Yankees at Legends Field, Tuesday, March 7, 2006, in Tampa, Fla. AP

Los Angeles Angels center fielder Torii Hunter called black Latino baseball players "impostors" when it comes to the appearance of the number of African-Americans in the major leagues.

Hunter's comments were made two weeks ago in one of a series of USA Today roundtables about baseball and published in Wednesday's editions.

"People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they're African-American," Hunter said. "They're not us. They're impostors. Even people I know come up and say: 'Hey, what color is Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a black player?' I say, 'Come on, he's Dominican. He's not black.' ...

"As African-American players, we have a theory that baseball can go get an imitator and pass them off as us. It's like they had to get some kind of dark faces, so they go to the Dominican or Venezuela because you can get them cheaper. It's like, 'Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?' ... I'm telling you, it's sad," he said.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, a Venezuelan, scoffed at Hunter's remarks before Wednesday's game against the Oakland Athletics. Angels spokesman Eric Kay said Hunter will not further discuss the subject.

"I was laughing because when he said, 'They go there and sign for potato chips,' I said, 'Well, we've got Chapman. They gave him $12 million. (Cincinnati actually agreed to a $30.25 million, six-year contract with pitcher Aroldis Chapman.) We've got (prospect Dayan) Viciedo. They gave him $10 million. I remember in my time, one scout goes (to Venezuela and) 30 players show up. Now, 30 scouts go there and one player shows up. In our country, we play baseball. That's no choice. Here you can play basketball, you can be another athlete, you can do so many things when you have the opportunity. And that's why there's not many (African-American) players out there."

There has been some concern about the number of African-American baseball players. Many blacks are choosing to play other sports instead.

Black players accounted for 10.2 percent of major leaguers in 2008, the most since the 1995 season, according to the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports.

"I keep saying a lot of times, in 10 more years American people are going to need a visa to play this game because we're going to take over. We're going to," Guillen said.



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