WASHINGTON -- Dr. Damion Thomas spends his days as the curator of sports at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. On Friday, he took time to guide a group of 2018 Futures Game players through his place of work.Hunter Greene and Taylor Trammell of the Reds, Buddy
WASHINGTON -- Dr. Damion Thomas spends his days as the curator of sports at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. On Friday, he took time to guide a group of 2018 Futures Game players through his place of work.
Hunter Greene and Taylor Trammell of the Reds, Buddy Reed of the Padres, Ke'Bryan Hayes from the Pirates and the Rangers' C.D. Pelham, all of whom will participate in Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, came to the nation's capital early to get a special tour of one of the most amazing museum experiences the country has to offer. Even in a relatively brief stay, it's clear just what kind of impact the visit had for these young players.
:: 2018 Futures Game coverage ::
"It was an unbelievable experience," Reed, a Padres outfield prospect, said. "They did a great job of explaining everything. Honestly, it's a blessing, seeing what my ancestors went through, black people together, in slave times and how we've evolved and how we are now and how we're doing."
"It was a great opportunity, first of all," said Greene, the Reds' top pitching prospect. "A lot of people, when we first got here off the bus, a lot of people were outside here waiting and I know there's a history of a long waiting time to come to this museum. Fortunately enough, we were able to get in.
"It was short, but it was amazing to see everything that has gone on in our history. It was very touching. I definitely need to come back here. For me, I believe it's a two-day process to go through it and really understand it, or try to understand it."
"This was unbelievable," said Hayes, the Pirates' third-base prospect. "You get to learn about it briefly in school, but to be able to come here and to be able to see it, it has more sentimental value to see it in person. It would be something I'd want my kids to come see, definitely."
Dr. Thomas led the group through many of the museum's exhibits, and different things resonated with different players, from across different times in their collective history. Greene, for one, was struck that that the exhibit started way back in 1400.
"My favorite thing is when we got off the elevator," Greene said. "We didn't start at slavery; we started way before that. A lot of people thought it was going to be slavery, but it was before that time, with us being kings and queens and I thought that was great."
"There was so much," Reed said. "One thing I took away were the slave boats. I saw 480 people that they brought over and only 80 survived. It sticks out to me how much turmoil they had to go through and it's something to really step back and be so grateful for the life you have and all the blessings you have in 2018."
"Really all of it," Hayes said about what hit him. "It goes way more in depth here at the museum."
"Probably the Emmett Till thing," Hayes continued about the exhibit honoring Till, a 14-year-old African-American who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955. "We learned about it briefly, but seeing what really happened was pretty crazy."
The tour finished off in Dr. Thomas' wheelhouse, the sports exhibit, and he spoke to the players about the importance sports have had on African-American history. He is quoted on the museum website saying:
"Sports is a language we use to connect across generations, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. When I think about sports, I think more about the role they play in society than the games themselves."
That is definitely a notion that resonates with the players on the tour, and the role they play, and will play as future big leaguers, is clearly something they have thought about.
"One day, I want to be a player that's able to reach out to younger black kids to be able to provide them with an outlet to be able to one day be able to play," Hayes said.
"I know MLB has RBI and things like that and, for me, it's just setting an example, doing the right things on and off the field, talking to those kids," Reed said. "I do a lot of player appearances with the affiliates, going out and seeing the little kids, the less fortunate. It's my dream, and obviously I'm not in the big leagues, but I'm going to continue to push, not just for myself, but for other people who are less fortunate. It's cool to see kids, especially the black kids, who love to play the game."
"I'd say when I began my high school career is when it was important for me to lead by example for my community, for the black community, to show that we still have a passion for baseball," Greene added. "I think it's wonderful to come here, get more insight, more information by coming to this museum and learning more about our history."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.