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By: Darwin Campbell
Author of column series “The Black Whisperer”

Some Folks Take Ignorance and Stupidity to New Heights

In this day in age, anyone can be offended by anything, but being “offended” is being taken to levels of ignorance and stupidity that no even altimeters can measure.

Case in point, recently before the All-Star Break a woman attended a Major League Baseball game and gave us the lastest example of taking offended licenses too far.

A Braves fan sent out a tweet during an Atlanta Braves game stating the “K” signs she saw on a banner showing strikouts was offensive and that the banner in question promoted the KKK.

Here is what she said in her Tweet before the firestorm and deletion of her account.
Sania Kay
 @Sania90. “Really disappointed with this sign at the new #BravesStadium Definitely NOT ok.”

The Tweet included a snapshot picture of three sheets marked “KKK” hanging over the wall as the game progressed and the home team pitcher pitched to batters.

The offended woman wanted action including for MLB to remove the strike signal “K” from the game completely — because after three strikeouts the letters match those of the Ku Klux Klan.


Baseball History


The “K” symbol was adopted in the 1860s by Henry Chadwick, who is considered the “father of baseball score keeping.”

Chadwick used the “K” for a swinging strikeout and a backward “K” for a strikeout looking. The “S” was already being used to score a sacrifice. For history buffs, the letter “K” has been used to represent a strikeout since the days of Abraham Lincoln and well before the KKK was founded and established in the small town of Pulaski, Tennessee in 1865.

Every major league park keeps a strikeout counter, and whenever a strikeout is recorded by the home pitcher, a “K” gets added to the board. The tradition has become a fan favorite as fans hold up giant letters symbolizing the meaning.

One of the greatest Black pitchers in all of baseball was St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer Bob Gibson. Facing him struck fear in all opposing batters. As a pitcher, he rang up a lot of K’s in his career, striking out a combination of 3,117 batters in 17 seasons.

Gibson went 251-174 for the Cardinals and had a 2.91 ERA for his career.

Lee Smith was one of the most dominant closers of all-time. He held the record for most saves for 13 years until 2006  As one of the game’s best game late inning closers, Smith, who spent most of his career with the Chicago Cubs, had 1,251 K’s of batters and finished his career with 478 saves and a 3.03 ERA.

Great Black players of the game from Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Ken Griffey and others understood the strikeout and the concept of the “K” – no racial puns included.

Jackie Robinson hit for career average of .311 but had 291 K’s etched by his name by scorekeepers and in record books.

Willie Mays hit 660 Home Runs but but had 1,526 K’s etched by his name by scorekeepers and in record books.

Hank Aaron – the true Home Run King hit 755 Home Run but had 1,383 K’s written by his name by scorekeepers and in record books.

Ken Griffey Jr. hit 630 career Home Runs but had 1,779 K’s written by his name in record books.


My Take

I am a huge baseball fan. Not only that I played the game on every level except the Majors and the letter “K” has always been part of the game representing the strikeouts from the scoring book to the fans who have fun keeping tabs on pitcher strikeouts. It is part of the tradition and fabric of the game.

On a lighter note, on more than one occasion, there were three K’s beside my name on the scorecard. It had absolutely nothing to do with the KuKluxKlan and was not offensive on the part of the schools, the leagues or coaches I played for.

It’s part of the game and to be offended or to read something into the use of “K” to symbolize the strikeout is not ,only stupid, but totally ludicrous.

There was already moves to change the Washington Redskins name because some were allegedly offended because of Native Americans.

What’s next?

The Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians for smiling or proud looking Native American mascot or tomahawk element or the San Diego Padres because it spoofs priests. Or, perhaps be offended by the Milwaukee Brewers because the name promotes drinking, beer and alcoholism and DUI’s. Or, even more, let’s get offended by the Pittsburgh Pirates because pirates have a colored history of robbery, raping, pillaging and killing on the high seas. – and that’s just talking baseball.

“K” collections of strikeouts at baseball games is neither racist nor offensive.

The world has greater problems that this. Look at Our Do Nothing Congress

You can change little things in baseball, but you can never change the heart and soul of the sport.

For many decades the game has brought people of all ages and cultures together and will always be a sport of including all cultures.

The question is how ridiculous can this trend of ignorance and stupidity get and how far will this go.