SHANKS: Hour number two of ‘The Bill Shanks Show' here on 105.5 the Fan. Hello I'm Bill Shanks. Thank you for being with us. 5:04 on a Thursday. The Braves won today by the score of 5-3 over the San Diego Padres. They are now 22-12 on the New York Mets in the National League Eastern Division. Tim Hudson the victory today for Atlanta. He's now 4-1 on the season. Speaking of the Atlanta Braves earlier this week the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition met with John Schuerholz. One of the two individuals that met with John Schuerholz was Dexter Clinkscale. He is the Director of Sports for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and he is with us on the phone now. Hello Mr. Clinkscale.
CLINKSCALE: How are you doing, sir?
SHANKS: I'm doing very well. How are you?
CLINKSCALE: I'm doing fine.
SHANKS: We hoped we could have gotten you on yesterday, but we're glad we finally got you on. Thank you for coming on with us. Let me ask you first what was your original purpose of meeting with John Schuerholz and the Atlanta Braves.
CLINKSCALE: The original purpose was baseball was celebrating the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson crossing over into baseball, breaking the color lines, crossing over into baseball, making baseball a better game for everyone to play, all our kids and adults as professionals. Around that same time, the media, there was an article out talking about African-Americans in baseball. It singled out the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros, at that particular time, as not having any African-Americans at all. Although they do have people of African descent, meaning from the Dominican Republic. As in the Braves, you know, Andruw Jones is from Curacao, who I believe is not just an All-Star player, but a Hall of Fame player. From that Mr. Joe Beasley, who is our Southern Regional Director for Rainbow/PUSH, he sent a letter to the Braves. The Braves responded and chose to meet with us this past Monday at 10:30 am. Very, very, very good meeting. Very cordial meeting, regardless of what has been said in the media world, particularly the radio world. It was a meeting that lasted somewhere around two hours. So it was a good deal. It was a good situation. It was something that we feel and Schuerholz feels needed to be discussed, otherwise I don't think he would have had us in there. We definitely, I don't think, would have been invited.
SHANKS: What were your points of trying to get accomplished by meeting with John Schuerholz? What were your issues that you discussed with him?
CLINKSCALE: It was the exact issues that I just addressed with you concerning was there a reason, what was their reason, how could that be helped or remedied to somewhat… situations like that. The Braves won the World Series. Tom Glavine pitched just an incredible game, and David Justice hit a home run. And we, and I say we because I've always been a Braves' fan growing up in Greenville, South Carolina. We won our first World Series. The next year, the Atlanta Braves had eleven African-Americans on their team. And that was just, what, ten years ago. This year they had zero. So there was an inquiry.
SHANKS: So you mentioned earlier about Andruw Jones and several other players from African descent. Rafael Soriano and Edgar Renteria are two that come to my mind. Are you also representing them in these discussions or is it just African-Americans?
CLINKSCALE: We were inquiring about African-American baseball players in baseball and in particular as far as the Atlanta Braves were concerned and meeting with Mr. Schuerholz. He was very happy to discuss baseball, and that's the only reason we were there. If we were discussing something else, I don't think he would have seen us.
SHANKS: Does your organization believe the Braves are racist since they only have one African-American on the roster now with Willie Harris?
CLINKSCALE: We don't believe, and I don't think anyone in our organization has called the Braves racist. You know I think that's taking it totally out of context. It is an issue of race, but that doesn't mean that someone is racist or bigoted.
SHANKS: Do you think they purposely kept black people off their roster?
CLINKSCALE: (Pause) I think baseball in general has suffered a decline in African-American participation. Thus the numbers have gone down across the board. In the case of the Atlanta Braves, the Atlanta Braves play here in Atlanta. With eleven on the team just years ago we were wondering why right now and when the letter was written to the Braves there was zero on the 40-man roster. For folk that don't know you're allowed to have twenty-five players in your dugout, but your roster consists of an additional fifteen more.
SHANKS: Right, we know that.
CLINKSCALE: Okay, well the whole radio world may not. On that 40-man roster the Braves did not have one African-American and they were one of only two out of thirty teams that did not. Atlanta sits in an area that is highly populated with African-Americans. Atlanta participates, recruits, plays, whatever in an area in which the Southeast Conference, the SEC, a league that has just shattered our records if I'm not mistaken for putting young football players in the National Football League as far as the draft. So this is just an incredible fertile bed of athletes in general across the board, and the Braves are the only, out of thirty teams, the Braves are the only baseball team in that area.
SHANKS: Has your group met with Major League Baseball to try to increase the participation of young African-Americans in the game of baseball?
CLINKSCALE: Reverend Jackson has spoken with Commissioner Selig. We were with Commissioner Selig and Hank Aaron and just an incredible array of former All-Stars and Hall of Famers in Los Angeles as a part of the Jackie Robinson celebration. That has been discussed. It's also an issue that people like Joe Morgan, Ernie Banks, and a lot of the Hall of Fame white players are also looking and concerned with.
SHANKS: What is the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition trying to do to… do you have any initiatives, any suggestions as to what can happen to increase the participation of young African-Americans in the sport?
CLINKSCALE: Well one of the things is, we wanted to know in the sense, from a Braves' perspective what do they do that as far as how they, you know, acquire or draft and this, that, and the other. And we also wanted to know if there were ways that we could collaborate, work together, or assist. It was a very good conversation. And by all standards, it was not controversial. By all standards, it was not confrontational. It just wasn't.
SHANKS: But do you believe that by asking for the meeting you were implying racism since the Braves do not have but one African-American? Wasn't that implying in itself…
CLINKSCALE: I think we're getting redundant now. I think the only thing implied was something concerning race. It was not, no implication of racism or calling anybody racists. That's something you keep saying, and when you get redundant with it, it's something that you want someone to say but you're saying it.
SHANKS: So your sole purpose was to try to find solutions to increase the participation and to increase the Braves' awareness of black athletes? Or do you feel they are not looking in the right areas for black athletes? Or what do you… how do you feel about that as far as how can they find more black athletes if the total number of players in Major League Baseball from 1977 until today has decreased by a tremendous margin?
CLINKSCALE: It dropped in half. It's dropped, excuse me, in the last ten years it's dropped in half to less than ten percent. I think it's hovering somewhere around 8.4% as far as African-Americans are concerned. And might I say the ones who are participating for the most part are doing an incredible job. You've got B.J. Upton at Tampa Bay, Derrick Lee Chicago both leading both sides of baseball as far as averages. You've got Barry and Jimmy Rollins, of all people, up there amongst the leaders in home runs and what not.
SHANKS: Do you believe that since the Braves have had the number of African-Americans on their roster decrease over the last ten years, as you said, is there anything they've done specifically to cause that?
CLINKSCALE: I would think anything that they have done has specifically caused that. They made the decisions on who is and who are not on their team. We didn't go in there with a laundry list of players and say, ‘hey why did you get rid of Jermaine Dye? Hey why did Justice, after hitting the home run, da da da da da… We didn't do that. We went and had a discussion. It was a very good candid discussion that lasted about two hours. That in itself should let you know that it was cordial. You know.
SHANKS: Joe Beasley, who you also mentioned was in the meeting with you, is the Southern Regional Director of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, was quoted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as saying that, and I quote, "I think it was a lack of diligence on the part of the Braves to recruit African-American players." Do you agree with that comment, sir?
CLINKSCALE: I support Joe Beasley in his statement, if that's what you mean. Do I support his statement or not? I went in with him.
SHANKS: Do you think that's true that there was a lack of diligence on the part of the Braves to specifically recruit African-American players?
CLINKSCALE: I would say that the Braves had eleven ten years ago. They had zero when the letter was sent.
SHANKS: And so that means there is a lack of diligence?
CLINKSCALE: That means that we went in to see, and it definitely may imply that, that there was type of, in a sense… I mean the Braves do a heck of a job at doing what they do. They've got one of the best managers in all of baseball, a first ballot Hall of Famer in my opinion as far as that goes. They know how to develop talent.
SHANKS: So it sounds like you don't necessarily agree with his comment here that there was a lack of diligence on the Braves' part to recruit African-American players?
CLINKSCALE: Sir, I think I absolutely told you just a few seconds ago that I went in with Joe Beasley. I support Joe Beasley and his statements. You didn't hear that?
SHANKS: Yeah I did.
CLINKSCALE: Now if you want me to speak… Joe Beasley could have come on this show.
SHANKS: Well we asked him first sir. We asked him first and he put us in contact with you.
CLINKSCALE: Well he asked me because I'm the Sports Director and I know baseball a lot better than Joe. Joe is a public policy person that has been a stalwart and an incredible civil rights leader over the years.
SHANKS: Okay, so if you believe that in fact there has been a lack of diligence on their part have they purposely not recruited, in your mind, African-American players…
CLINKSCALE: I think that is a question that you will have to ask John Schuerholz. You can't get him, can you?
SHANKS: Well we wanted to talk with you first. Your comments…
CLINKSCALE: Why wouldn't you have talked to us together. I mean that's the best way to do it. That's how Larry King does it.
SHANKS: Well I'm not Larry King, sir. I'm Bill Shanks.
CLINKSCALE: That's for sho. That's definitely for sure. (Laughs)
SHANKS: That's for sho. You know I don't need to be insulted on my own show, sir.
CLINKSCALE: I'm not insulting you. You're being compared to the best. That's not an insult.
SHANKS: Okay, good.
CLINKSCALE: That's not an insult at all.
CLINKSCALE: And I'm not trying to do that.
SHANKS: No I'm just trying to find out…
CLINKSCALE: You made the point that you're not, and I just agreed with you. That's all. I did one of your tactics. That's all.
SHANKS: My tactic is to simply ask questions, sir. And what I would like to know is if you do think the Braves have not been diligent in recruiting African-American players why do you think they have done that? That's simply my question.
CLINKSCALE: And I said again…
SHANKS: So you don't know…
CLINKSCALE: That is a question that you need to ask Mr. Schuerholz.
SHANKS: I know John Schuerholz was quoted in a recent interview, when he was asked about the diminished number of African-Americans in the game of baseball, he said, "You go to where the talent leads you. Finding major league caliber baseball players is far too difficult if you try to narrow your criteria down to demographics." It's obvious that not as many African-American kids are not playing the game of baseball now compared to thirty years ago, and so there are not as many players out there for the scouts to find. So when you look at the Braves roster and try to find African-American players, don't you agree that they are simply trying to find the talent from what the pool is providing?
CLINKSCALE: (Pause) I have not looked at the Braves' roster in that detail. I know the Braves have two obligations. One is to win the World Series. Number two is a community obligation. Those are the two obligations they have as a professional team.
SHANKS: What is the community obligation, sir?
CLINKSCALE: The community obligation is to represent it in the best form and fashion that they can. That has a lot of facets to it, you know. As we've seen with the football situation in particular. That's why the Commissioner of football is really coming down on NFL players because they are not being respective and being responsible in their particular communities that they play professional sports in. That's why he is, in a sense, circumventing the law. He's putting NFL rule, or NFL policy, in front of the legal system in some cases because in some cases you have cases still pending or someone has been adjudicated innocent but I think with the community negative affect the commissioner is saying, "Hey we're going to step in front." Sometimes the implication of impropriety or being in the wrong place at the wrong time will be construed as being penalized as far as the National Football League is concerned.
SHANKS: Okay Mr. Clinkscale I think we're getting a little off track here. I think my question, and maybe I should rephrase my question a little bit better. Major League Baseball teams are going overseas. They are going to Latin America to find talent. More talent is being provided to those clubs by other areas including Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic. That's where teams are getting talent. Obviously the Red Sox just paid a ton of money for a Japanese pitcher. Isn't it the goal of the team to find the best player available no matter where they come from?
CLINKSCALE: In the Braves case they found three outstanding players and four if you include Willie Harris right now from right here in the Georgia, Atlanta area. I don't think it was an accident that they did not look at where these particular people were from and say, ‘Hey this would be good for the community that we live in if we can bring this guy in and he develops into the player that we want him to be.'
SHANKS: So you think…
CLINKSCALE: And the Braves, I think the Braves did that, in particular with the three outstanding players that they have groomed and become outstanding players.
SHANKS: So you're saying that Willie Harris… hold on….
CLINKSCALE: And Willie Harris…
SHANKS: Excuse me sir. You say that Willie Harris was brought up… you're implying that Willie Harris was brought up…
CLINKSCALE: No I'm not, sir. No I'm not.
SHANKS: Can I finish my question. You were implying that the Atlanta Braves brought Willie Harris up because he's an African-American and because Atlanta is mainly African-American. Is that what you were saying?
CLINKSCALE: No I'm not.
CLINKSCALE: No I'm not.
SHANKS: Be a little more specific here in what you are saying.
CLINKSCALE: I specifically told you no I'm not implying it. I can't be any more specific than that.
SHANKS: So don't you think Willie Harris was brought up…
CLINKSCALE: Willie Harris… Willie Harris had better contracts somewhere else. Willie Harris chose to come to the Braves because this is the area in which he lives.
SHANKS: Right. Cairo.
CLINKSCALE: Willie Harris is a twenty-eight year old really veteran baseball player. He's not a twenty-one, twenty-two or eighteen-year old fresh out.
SHANKS: And I don't think they brought him in here because he's black. Do you?
CLINKSCALE: I just told sir I did not. Okay. You're not listening?
SHANKS: Yes, sir I'm listening. I'm trying to.
CLINKSCALE: No you're not. You're trying to be argumentative.
SHANKS: No I'm just asking some questions.
CLINKSCALE: No you're trying to be argumentative. But you've got the wrong guy.
SHANKS: Okay, let me…
CLINKSCALE: We didn't argue with Schuerholz. He didn't argue with us. And I'm certainly not going to argue with you.
SHANKS: Do you think that the Atlanta Braves should have additional African-Americans on their team because Atlanta's population is predominantly black?
CLINKSCALE: I will say this. The community in which it sits has a high African-American population.
CLINKSCALE: The community in which it performs Atlanta performs… look at the Southwest Conference. Excuse me, the SEC, the Southeastern Conference.
SHANKS: Football, you mean?
CLINKSCALE: Right. Right. You know it, right?
SHANKS: Right. Yeah.
CLINKSCALE: Go to every single school. Just draw a line from all of them. And that is an incredible area. Wouldn't you agree?
CLINKSCALE: Okay. Name another professional baseball team in that area.
SHANKS: There's not one.
CLINKSCALE: There's not one single one. In that area, in that southeastern area, there are, without question, the best football players in the United States from a collegiate level. The NFL just showed you that.
SHANKS: Okay… let's…
CLINKSCALE: Let me make my point, okay.
SHANKS: Let's keep it on baseball though.
CLINKSCALE: Let me make my point.
CLINKSCALE: Also, year in and year out, between the ACC and the SEC you are looking at the best basketball – year in and year out – with the Kentucky's and the Tennessee's, the Auburns that come up. Florida, who just won for the second year in a row.
SHANKS: Sir I really don't know what this has to do with the Atlanta Braves.
CLINKSCALE: Thirdly, some of the best baseball talent exists in that same demographic. I'm not just saying the SEC of schools but I'm just saying put the line around it and everything in. Okay. Also, if you look at percentages, percentages now, there are more African-Americans as far as concentration in that area than anywhere in these United States.
SHANKS: Okay but are they playing baseball or are they playing SEC football?
CLINKSCALE: And in anywhere in this world as far as African-Americans are concerned.
SHANKS: Are they playing baseball?
CLINKSCALE: I think there a lot of them are playing baseball. I really do. I really do. And when you look at that and the Braves being the only team in that particular area and over a ten-year period, not twenty, not forty, not thirty, to go from eleven to zero. Not eleven to one. They went from eleven to zero. Now Willie Harris was in training camp. He had an outstanding training camp and hit .318, led the team in steals with seven, you know, did some good fielding and what not. But the Braves chose to leave him off that 40-man roster. They had that right to do that. They probably, and I'm sure they did it, for business reasons. At least that's what has come to my attention. But that's not to say that, ‘hey we shouldn't inquire.' That's not to say that we shouldn't ask. Because we believe that there are a pool of players from which professional player can evolve.
SHANKS: Are the Braves looking in that pool of players?
CLINKSCALE: That's a Schuerholz question.
SHANKS: Well did you ask him that question on Monday?
CLINKSCALE: We had a great dialogue with the General Manager.
SHANKS: Did you ask him that question?
CLINKSCALE: We had a great dialogue. We asked a lot of questions. They asked us questions.
SHANKS: How about that question? Did you ask him that one?
CLINKSCALE: We gave them a lot of answers, and they gave us a lot of answers. And one thing I will say the Braves they did, they gave us a community report on the Braves and their ‘Beyond the Diamond' program. You know.
SHANKS: Did you ask him that question?
CLINKSCALE: It was a very good discussion.
SHANKS: Mr. Clinkscale did you ask him that question if they looking in that pool of players?
CLINKSCALE: Like I say sir it was a very, very good discussion.
SHANKS: So you're not going to answer that
CLINKSCALE: I'm not going to answer for Mr. Schuerholz. No I'm not.
SHANKS: No I'm asking you if you were the one that asked Schuerholz the question. Did you yourself ask him that question?
CLINKSCALE: I'll tell you this I didn't answer the question.
SHANKS: I'm not asking if you answered it. I'm asking did you ask him a question. Did you ask John Schuerholz that question of whether or not the Braves…
CLINKSCALE: You're asking it for the fourth time.
SHANKS: Cause you're not answering it.
CLINKSCALE: So the fourth time should tell you something.
SHANKS: So you're not going to answer the question. Okay. All you have to do is say you're not going to answer the question.
CLINKSCALE: I told you I'm not going to answer a question that you need to address to Schuerholz.
SHANKS: But you are the one that asked him the question, right? I'm asking you if you asked him a question. Why would I ask him if someone asked him a question?
CLINKSCALE: Sir do you want to continue the interview?
SHANKS: Sure, I do.
CLINKSCALE: Okay get to something else please.
SHANKS: Okay we heard that Joe Beasley, who had some comments, well let me back up a little bit. You say you're the Sports Director so you knew a little more about baseball. Mr. Beasley talked about the recruiting effort. So you know how the draft is orchestrated? You know how amateur scouts get out there in the draft? You know they get out there to look for talent. They go to high schools and search for talent around the country and try to find players that they can draft in the draft every June, correct?
CLINKSCALE: I'm listening. Go ahead. You're telling me how it's done. I'm listening.
SHANKS: So you went into the meeting with John Schuerholz and didn't know how the draft is done?
CLINKSCALE: You're telling me how it's done. You're explaining to me and the public how it's done. You're going into it. Go ahead.
SHANKS: Sir, I'm just asking if you know. Did you know that?
SHANKS: Okay, evidently not. You do know the Braves have seventeen area scouts and six of those scouts are African-American, right?
CLINKSCALE: We didn't inquire about their scouts.
SHANKS: Okay. So you didn't inquire about the scouts. You do know that of the forty people on the 40-man roster ten different countries are represented, which I think shows some diversity, correct?
CLINKSCALE: Go ahead.
SHANKS: I'm asking you a question. That's a question sir.
CLINKSCALE: Go ahead.
SHANKS: Okay and you're not going to answer.
CLINKSCALE: I'm listening. You're trying to teach me something so I'm going to listen. You're trying say some things that you don't think I know.
SHANKS: I'm asking you questions. It's a question and answer show.
CLINKSCALE: No you're giving the answer and then you're saying, ‘don't you know that' like I'm being cross-examined or something. You're a terrible lawyer. Let me say that. But you go right ahead counselor.
SHANKS: And you obviously…
CLINKSCALE: Go right ahead.
SHANKS: You obviously don't know the answers to my questions.
CLINKSCALE: Put it this way… put it this way… Schuerholz chose to meet with us for two hours. We had a great dialogue. We asked him a lot better questions than you're asking me.
SHANKS: But you can't remember them…
CLINKSCALE: I can remember every last one of them.
SHANKS: But you haven't told me what you asked him though.
CLINKSCALE: He hadn't told you either. You know what he said to the media? "I ain't telling you nothing."
SHANKS: That's right. Yeah. But how did…
CLINKSCALE: So… but it's okay for you to come at me all kind of ways.
SHANKS: I'm asking some questions sir.
CLINKSCALE: But it's okay for him to tell you he ain't telling you nothing. That's why he ain't talking to you because he doesn't want to. Because he doesn't want anything he says to take all kind of ways. Okay? So if you've got a question for Schuerholz you ask him.
SHANKS: I brought you on my show to ask you questions sir.
CLINKSCALE: No you didn't bring me on your show.
SHANKS: Well I brought you on yesterday but you didn't come. Now I have you on here today to ask you questions. That's the purpose of the interview.
CLINKSCALE: You didn't bring me on your show. This is my first time ever talking to you. Let's get that straight. Okay?
SHANKS: Let me ask you this sir, if I can. And again we're with Dexter Clinkscale, the Director of Sports for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. Joe Beasley, the Southern Regional Director, did he say on the radio yesterday, or on Tuesday rather, that the best way to get more African-Americans on the Atlanta Braves roster is to have Bobby Cox fired?
CLINKSCALE: (Pause) Sir. (Pause)
SHANKS: Do you know if this is true or not, Mr. Clinkscale? Did he ask for Bobby Cox to be fired?
CLINKSCALE: Sir do you have a transcript or something of a conversation? Was Joe Beasley on your show?
SHANKS: No I'm asking you about a program he was on Tuesday in Atlanta.
CLINKSCALE: You need to ask Dexter about Dexter. Okay?
SHANKS: So you can't answer a question about what Joe Beasley said?
CLINKSCALE: You need to ask Dexter about Dexter.
SHANKS: Okay, Dexter do you feel that if Bobby Cox was fired…
CLINKSCALE: I gave my sentiments on Bobby Cox earlier in the conversation but you chose not to listen to it.
SHANKS: I listened but that doesn't mean it answered…
CLINKSCALE: Okay, but…that…that…that….
SHANKS: Sir….sir….sir….sir…sir. Hold on.
CLINKSCALE: Sir that's it sir. Check this out. You have a great day. And hello to all your listeners. I appreciate the opportunity of coming on and speaking with you. You take care.
Clinkscale Interview Transcript
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