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leadersDarwin Campbell, African-American News&Issues

The front office of the Houston Astros is as quiet as Astros batters at the plate lately when it comes to dealing with the issue of respecting Black Press and the meeting between the African-American News&Issues and Astros Owner Jim Crane. 

Some influential community leaders understand the value of the connection and feel strongly that owner Jim Crane and Astros top brass should meet with African-American News&Issues Publisher Roy Douglas Malonson.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker said the issue between the newspaper and the Houston Astros appears to be a big public relations mistake that needs to be fixed.

“All African-American Press should be covering the Astros,” she said. “I am very familiar with African American News&Issues. We have criteria for giving media credentials, but you (AANI) meet every criteria I can think of and would want in news media.”

She said she would have a discussion with Crane about credentialing and Black Press access to the Astros.

The newspaper bought tickets and took a short field trip to Minute Maid Park to see the Astros and Kansas Royals to honor the memory of Jackie Robinson.

However,  instead of experiencing a large Black turnout and wide display of honor and respect for No. 42, we witnessed a poor and dismal attendance showing of support for the team and the great legend who broke Baseball’s color barrier. No large caravans, no tailgates and no church buses and no great promotions of Black pride for Robinson or the Astros.

Again – It raises huge question then of why the Houston Astros would not want to work with the African-American News&Issues in a cooperative effort to raise awareness and increase the interest of Baseball in the African-American community?

The Astros continue to be under fire for the way  they handled the credentialing process when the African-American News&Issues made a request in March to cover the teams Black manager and players.

The attempt to do this was part of the newspaper’s goal of helping connect African-American players with the African-American community hoping to help generate more interest in baseball in Houston.

The nature of the story changed after Media Office General Manager Steve Grande was disrespectful to  Malonson in a phone call and raised numerous concerns about the newspapers motives for covering the team.

Further issues were raised when credentials were denied  and verbiage used in correspondence on issuing credentials included only issuing to “people we trust” and another  e-mail to  “people we know”.

The newspaper  raised serious questions about the credentialing process and raised questions about being discriminatory nature of  how the Astros screen “applicants” for credentials and about the “nuts and bolts” policies and procedures that goes into the selection process.

State Sen. John Whitmire said he has urged that Astros owner set a meeting with the newspaper as soon as possible because the Astros really need to get to know Roy Douglas Malonson.

“Maybe the new ownership needs some sensitivity and awareness. I think the real problem is they don’t know Roy Douglas Malonson,” Whitmire said. “He has the  respect and support of the people in our community. I hope everyone can take a deep breath and work together.”

Whitmire said with a great major league facility sitting right in Acres Home, it just makes good sense for Jim Crane and the Astros organization to work with the Acres Home newspaper.

“The previous ownership helped facilitate this,” he said. “I have told the new people to meet Mr. Malonson. So far as I know, it hasn’t happened. It is their loss if they don’t.”

State Sen. Rodney Ellis has launched an inquiry into the matter and wants full explanation from the Astros on the incident.

“I have asked them and sent a question over to them trying to find out what the problem is,” Ellis said. “I want to know what the process is to see if it is any different for you all compared to others.”

State Rep. Sylvester Turner said he was contacted by the Astros and urged the Astros to meet with Publisher Roy Douglas Malonson and hoped the matter could be settled after each side got and understanding about what the paper can do to help increase interest in baseball in the Black community.

However, despite being a Black newspaper with Houston and large statewide presence for 19 years, still no official go ahead, formal invitation for access from the Astros..

On a positive note, The Houston Texans have opened their doors for African-American News&Issues to come in once the NFL season kicks into high gear.