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Story talks racial injustice, vows to push change

@harding_at_mlb
July 4, 2020

DENVER -- Not playing baseball while a virus raged uncontrolled and Americans protested the death of George Floyd gave Rockies shortstop Trevor Story the feeling that he was just a baseball player. Yet, he was raised to be more. On Saturday, after the first day of Rockies Summer Camp, Story

DENVER -- Not playing baseball while a virus raged uncontrolled and Americans protested the death of George Floyd gave Rockies shortstop Trevor Story the feeling that he was just a baseball player. Yet, he was raised to be more.

On Saturday, after the first day of Rockies Summer Camp, Story spoke like a man striving to be all that he has prepared to be on the field, and more off it.

“What we're going through as a country, you realize that sports and baseball, your job, is not as important as you probably think it is,” Story said. “It's tough to feel that, but you look back at it.

“I want to be a person that helps and changes for the better and not just kind of took things and didn't give back or leave it better than it was when I left. And I think that's what I realized. And you know, I feel like it's always a work in progress.”

Oberg gets reassurances about playing

As the Rockies struggled last season, Story vowed on several occasions to be more forceful a leader -- vocal when he needs to be, direct even when quiet, all while continuing to set an example with his actions. But Story felt a higher calling after Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Story knew he could no longer live in whatever comfort zones his life had given him, and he delivered a tweet on Thursday calling for social justice and change.

Suddenly, Story wasn’t just giving a teammate a pitcher’s tendencies or calling out someone for not hustling to first base. Story admitted that talking about such issues is “not comfortable,” but everyone must confront them. Reds star Joey Votto’s guest column in the Cincinnati Enquirer saying he was finally becoming sensitive to the experiences of his Black teammates helped inspire Story.

“After George Floyd’s murder, that’s all I could think about for days and days, and I still do think about that,” Story said. “I was trying to figure out a way to word it, to express my feelings. It’s just tough.”

The awareness goes back to Story’s upbringing in Irving, Texas.

Story's father, Ken, had a lengthy career as an Irving firefighter before his 2016 retirement. Ken Story drove the truck, often arriving on someone’s worst possible day. Story's mother, Teddie, is CEO of Irving Cares, a non-profit food charity. Trevor and his brother, Tyler, would hang out at the firehouse and volunteer with his mom’s charity before they even understood the importance.

Also, public schools and the Dallas area’s diverse baseball scene -- the Pirates’ Josh Bell, who has found his voice in pushing for social justice, is a longtime teammate and friend -- meant Story wasn’t cocooned.

“Pretty much every school I went to, whites were the minority, and I could almost feel with the community in that way,” Story said. “I know how special people come from that community, and I just want equal treatment for everyone, man. And I feel like it's not really that way right now.

“Not to say that I know the way that they feel or had been put in their shoes at all, but I just felt that I needed to speak up in that sense. It was bothering me. I saw where Joey Votto said that he's losing sleep over it. That's exactly the way that I couldn't. I didn't really sleep well.”

The push for justice that Story wants to assist with is not unopposed. On Saturday, the day outfielder Matt Kemp's Minor League contract with the Rockies went official, Kemp relayed a post from the Players Alliance amplifying a Frederick Douglass quote from his famous 1852 speech entitled, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July." Kemp then posted a hateful and profane message he had received.

Story counts outfielder Ian Desmond as an influence, in baseball and in life. Desmond chose not to play this season to be with his family and help the Sarasota, Fla., community baseball scene. In recent Instagram posts, Desmond has spoken out on racism he has experienced in his life in and out of baseball. Story said he has spoken to Desmond throughout the offseason, will talk with him on Sunday and knows “he’s going to be part of the solution.”

On Saturday, Story also expressed heartfelt concern about the illnesses and deaths that COVID-19 has caused in his home state and implored folks to wear masks and follow other protocols.

“It’s been rough over the past week in Texas -- it’s scary, man,” Story said. “You want to get past this thing as quickly as possible. It hasn’t been easy. We feel like everyone just needs to wear their masks now and be safe. Texas is such a great state with so many great people in it. We need to protect those people. The least we can do is wear a mask.”

Working out at Coors Field on Saturday, Story was trimmer than when he left Scottsdale, Ariz., following Spring Training getting halted in mid-March -- he's down to about 205-207 pounds from his usual 212-215 reporting weight. Story noted that this is his usual pattern during the year. He has a .303 career average and .534 slugging percentage in August and a .274 average and .603 slugging percentage in September, which will be the two full months of the 60-game regular season.

Now, Story said he, third baseman Nolan Arenado, right fielder Charlie Blackmon and first baseman Daniel Murphy -- he also said Desmond will continue to be a voice -- must be the veterans to help the Rockies succeed.

“We have to set the tone in that sense,” Story said. “Every single day is going to be hard. It’s not going to be easy. Guys are going to be looking to us.

“That’s what happens when you challenge your teammates. You’re putting your neck out there.”

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.