For a few hours this week, softball had a shot at something it has haunted for decades: the spotlight. The USSSA Pride and Scrap Yard Fast Pitch, two independent professional softball teams that boast some of the best players in the world, started what was supposed to be a seven-game series in Melbourne, Florida, facing little competition from other sports in alive.
Instead, the first day of the series ended with the 18 Scrap Yard Fast Pitch players cleaning their lockers and promising never to play for the organization again, after its CEO bragged to President Trump on Twitter during the game that the team was standing. during the national anthem.
The tweet, sent from the team’s official account by Connie May, team general manager, said: “Hi, @realDonaldTrump Pro Fastpitch is being played live … Everyone is standing by the FLAG!”
After Monday’s game, the players said, they returned to the locker room to uncover a plethora of text messages and alerts about May’s post.
“It was a shock,” said pitcher Cat Osterman, 37, an Olympic gold medalist. “A real, genuine, wordless shock took over our locker room.”
The players then began to talk to each other, noting what they felt was most concerning about the post: that May had spoken for all of them without her consent, and that she attributed the political intent to her actions during the anthem suggested by the opposition. al Negro Live the movement of matter.
The tweet was quickly removed, apparently after sparking a backlash online. May and Scrap Yard Fast Pitch did not respond to requests for comment.
The players spent an hour discussing the problem in the locker room and decided that they could no longer play under the Scrap Yard name. “The more we talked about it, the angrier I got, and I finally said, ‘I’m done, I’m not going to wear this shirt,'” Osterman said. “We were used as pawns in a political position, and that is not right.”
The players were supported in their decision by the coaching staff.
It was not the first time that May’s politics had been a topic of discussion among the team, which is made up of 18 women between the ages of 22 and 37. When Scrap Yard released a statement about the murder of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, she said: “We believe that black lives matter, like all lives,” causing some consternation among the players.
Monday’s tweet, however, hit a raw nerve. “I never really thought that she didn’t care about my life or Kiki’s life until that position,” said Kelsey Stewart, one of the team’s two black players, along with Kiki Stokes.
Most Scrap Yard players are white, but Stewart said they still strongly defied May’s comments, both directly and on social media.
“It was good to know that Kiki, who is black, didn’t have to speak all the time, that she didn’t have to speak everything,” Stewart said.
Stewart, who was ready to play in her first Olympics this summer before the Tokyo Games were postponed until 2021, said racism in softball “has been a problem for me for as long as I can remember,” on assumptions that he plays. in the garden or is unusual. fast to racist insults on social media. The sport is mostly white, especially at the highest levels, and after Floyd’s death, that imbalance seemed more urgent than ever, he said.
“I talked to some of my black softball sisters like, we can’t be quiet anymore, it’s not really an option for us,” Stewart said.
The players said they were confident in their decision despite the fact that Scrap Yard is one of the very few organizations that sponsors top-tier professional softball teams.
“We are not going to tolerate that in our sport,” said Osterman. “It was not as difficult a decision as everyone thinks, because we knew it was the right thing to do.”