M's Trammell finding voice, addressing racism

September 10th, 2020

You don’t need to be a superstar to have a voice. You don’t need All-Star appearances, a World Series ring or an MVP trophy to speak out against injustice. New Mariners outfield prospect Taylor Trammell is proving just how true that is.

The 22-year-old Trammell, who came to the Mariners in a seven-player Trade Deadline deal, has been finding his voice more and more consistently. He’s taken to social media often over the past few months as the United States has reached an inflection point in terms of racial justice. It culminated in a powerful piece he wrote for The Players’ Tribune titled, “Baseball Is Not Black Enough.”

Trammell grabs your attention right at the top:

“That headline got you a little bit nervous, huh? You think this is going to be a tough conversation? This isn’t tough. This is nothing. Every time a police shooting goes viral, everybody starts talking about, ‘It’s time for us to have some tough talks.’ A tough talk is going to a mother’s house and telling her that somebody killed her son while he was out for a jog. A tough talk is having to tell your kid that their dad is never gonna walk again because he was shot by police. These conversations we’re starting to have about race in this country, in our locker rooms or with our friends and colleagues — yeah, it’s not fun. But I really hope that it doesn’t feel tough. If that’s a tough talk for you, that’s sad. Because for us? It’s what we live through. It’s reality.”

Trammell was a guest on the MLB Pipeline Podcast this week and talked about his place in the Black Lives Matter movement. He knows where he is in terms of his playing career and understands his platform isn’t the same as some of the stars he looks up to, but he felt he could no longer sit on the sidelines during this national conversation.

“I'm not like some of these guys who are established who are, I would say, some of the faces of baseball,” Trammell said on the podcast. “I look at guys like Amir Garrett, Tim Anderson, Dexter Fowler, Dee Strange-Gordon, you look at all these guys and it's like, 'No, I'm not where they are.'

“And I really thought a lot about it. And it took some time for me to honestly just think about it, take time to actually make sure that what I'm saying was true to me and what is actually going on in the world.”

In his essay, Trammell makes sure to drive home the point that this isn’t just about representation in baseball, though that’s a part of it. He writes:

“Look, everything that’s going on in the world right now, it’s bigger than baseball. The fact that I am 22 years old, and I’ve seen so many people getting shot, so many people dying, being murdered … watching this on social media … watching people getting their lives taken away on Twitter …. It’s insane.”

But better representation in the sport he loves would go a long way in terms of what Major League Baseball can do in this moment, even how the one-to-one conversations Trammell and other Black players are having with teammates go. He argues:

“But I believe that everyone has a role to play, including MLB. And I can’t help but think that these heart-to-hearts would go a lot differently in baseball if my team -- if my sport -- had a lot more Black people in it. It’s like, you guys aren’t in our shoes. You’re not seeing what we’re going through. And it’s not just the violence.”

Trammell recounts his experiences growing up playing baseball on predominantly white teams, on interactions he’s had with teammates in clubhouses since he became a professional player after the Reds selected him with the No. 35 pick in the 2016 Draft. Like many young players, he kept his head down and got his work in, chasing his dream of reaching the big leagues. Now he’s realizing he can do that and still find ways for his voice to be heard.

“At the end of the day, I really just said if I can impact one person's life that could change the way they view me, the way they view how other people are treated, that's a win for me,” Trammell said on the Pipeline Podcast. “And so I understand that I have a fairly decent amount of followers on my social media. If I can help those guys who are on the fence of like, ‘We don't understand what you guys are talking about. We don't understand why this Black Lives Matter thing is a thing, why you guys are honestly tired and upset.’

“If I can just explain it to them, I think that's getting more out of it … I want people to understand is it's not just me. It's not just all these [stars] that I named. I just wanted to make what I've gone through in my life, those things are the things I want to bring light to so people can understand what is going on in this country and in this world.”

And he wants baseball to be a part of shining that light and to do better in leading the way in what a better world can look like. He concludes his piece with a call to action:

“I’m just now starting to feel like I can actually speak up in the moment when I hear something, without somebody side-eyeing me, thinking I’m just complaining or being soft, or something like that. There’s real change happening. But we gotta get LOUDER in baseball, you hear me?? We need VOICES. And we need more Black players on the field. What are we waiting for?”