When I was a child, the taunt “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” was bantered about as if it were an answer to everything.
Well…words DO hurt and the general manager for the Texas Independent professional softball team the Scrap Yard Dogs found out just how bad they can hurt.
Scrap Yard Dogs general manager Connie May posted a Tweet with a photo of her team all standing for the National Anthem. She added the caption, which included a tag to the White House, “everyone respecting the FLAG!”.
The Tweet has since been deleted, but the damage was done.
The players were furious over the Tweet and resigned from the team en masse; the coaching staff and some of the office staff joined the players. Going a step further, they formed a new team – This Is Us Softball.
Outfielder Haylie McCleney said, “it’s really the same team, we’re just dropping the Scrap Yard portion of it because we no longer want to represent the organization after how we were treated. So we’re going to continue to play for the awareness, the empowerment and the unity.”
Pitcher Cat oysterman was one of the first players to take a stand and quit the team; followed by Kiki Stokes. The remainder of the team quickly followed.
“It wasn’t really a question. No one questioned the decision. I believe Cat was one of the first people to say it, and then after that, everyone was like, ‘You go, I go,’” said Kelsey Stewart.
In a locker room speech the players viewed as a tone deaf apology, May told the team that she thought the Tweet showed that the team was unified.
Later, May again attempted to apologize via a phone call, but the players only felt that May was not listening to their concerns. Kelsey Stewart, who was a part of the call, said that May kept saying her heart was in the right place and told the team that “all lives matter”.
McCleney, who was also on the call, felt that May was not genuine in her apologies.
The players from the Scrap Yard Dogs are also getting some support from other players and companies who have reached out to help the girls with equipment and funding. The USSSA Pride – the last game the Scrap Yard Dogs played, were to play a seven game series this summer and have since postponed those games. The Pride has also condemned May’s Tweet.
Besides playing softball, This Is Us hope to open some dialogue on racism saying, “if our GM was listening to Black voices, she would have known that that tweet was unacceptable.”
Stewart added, “it’s time to open our hearts and minds and really acknowledge the situation, acknowledge that racism is real and be part of that change. Have those hard conversations and don’t be afraid to change your mind after you learn new information.”
And she has a message for the young girls who want to play softball, “we are here to protect you at all costs. And we’re going through this now so you don’t have to go through this. Keep swinging, keep playing catch and we’ll protect you the whole way.”
feature photo credit: By Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=80979171