Dusty Baker Was Right!
heat] is a factor in Atlanta, it`s a factor in
Cincinnati, it`s a factor in Philadelphia. We have to
mix and match and try to keep guys fresh and try to have
different lineups . . . I`ve got a pretty good idea
[how it`s done]. My teams usually play better in the
second half than they do in the first half. I think
that`s because the way we spot guys and use everybody."
He then went on to violate all
sorts of the rules of political correctness by opining:
"Personally, I like to play
in the heat. It`s easier for me. It`s easier for most
Latin guys and easier for most minority people. You
don`t find too many brothers in New Hampshire and
Maine and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, right? We
were brought over here for the heat, right? Isn`t that
history? Weren`t we brought over because we could take
the heat? Your skin color is more conducive to the heat
than it is to the light-skinned people, right? You don`t
see brothers running around burnt and stuff, running
around with white stuff on their ears and nose and
controversy erupted. Numerous sportswriters and
broadcasters demanded Baker`s
scalp: "Making dumb
racial comments is inexcusable and has no place in
society," said a
columnist in Buffalo. On Fox News` Hannity &
Colmes, when my friend Jon Entine, author of
Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why
We`re Afraid to Talk About It, explained that
Baker`s comments were not scientifically implausible,
Righteous Rightwinger Sean Hannity exploded:
“Your science is a silly science, Jon. It`s absolutely
Demonstrating that this Baker can stand the heat,
and won`t get out of the kitchen, the three-time
National League "Manager of the Year" refused to
position: "I was just
saying the facts, Jack."
A few thoughts –
- We`ve been lectured for years that
"race is only skin deep," that the only differences
between races are surface features evolved to adapt
humans to local climates. Now, though, a new dogma
appears to be emerging – that race isn`t even skin
- In fact, of course, racial differences are so
blindingly obvious in
sports that sports media have developed a
particularly acute immune system to make sure that "the
words don`t match the pictures – my title for an
article I once wrote about what
we can learn about human diversity from sports, if
we`d only think rigorously about what we see on ESPN.
- Some of the furor against Baker is driven by
understandable white resentment. Because Baker is black,
he can get away with talking about human differences,
whereas white guys who have spouted off on the subject
have been crushed like bugs. L.A. Dodger executive
Al Campanis and sportscaster
Jimmy the Greek Snyder lost their careers. Baseball
Commissioner Bud Selig required pitcher
John Rocker to submit to psychiatric treatment, in
the grand tradition of the Brezhnev regime.
But responding to
censorship by demanding it be made universal is
cutting off your nose to spite your face. If whites
free speech for everybody, they can hardly expect to
enjoy it themselves.
- Another source of misplaced anger:
mistaking theories of racial diversity for assertions of
racial supremacy. As I wrote in
"Seven Dumb Ideas about Race" in VDARE.com back in
"Much of the Race Does Not Exist cant stems from the
following logic (if you can call it logic): `If there
really are different racial groups, then one must be The
Master Race, which means—oh my God – that Hitler Was
Right! Therefore we must promote whatever ideas most
confuse the public about race. Otherwise, they will
learn the horrible truth and they`ll all vote Nazi.`"
is one big non-sequitur. There is no race that`s
To say that
blacks and Latinos are better suited for hot, humid day
games in July logically implies that whites may be
better suited for cold, windy night games in April.
within walking distance of Wrigley Field for 18 years.
I`ve shivered through too many frigid April and May Cubs
games as the wind whipped off icy Lake Michigan. I think
Dusty should put some Eskimos on the Cubs.
advancing a scientific hypothesis that could be tested
data required – box scores and heat and humidity
records – are available in abundance. So are thousands
of baseball statistics nerds. Instead of denouncing
theorizing, let`s encourage testing.
League baseball managers have so much data and so much
money to spend analyzing it that they don`t need to rely
upon racial generalizations. If they`re trying to figure
out whom to rest in Houston in July (or in Milwaukee in
May), they can ask their statistics geeks to develop a
weather profile for each player.
admiration for Baker is now in its fifth decade (from
the late 1960s to whatever you call this decade). So I
wouldn`t dismiss out of hand anything he has to say
about baseball. Or anything else – during spring
recommended to reporters that they
read Thomas Sowell`s
The Economics and Politics of Race.
however: if it`s true, Baker`s Effect would be one of
the more minor examples of racial differences in sports.
Managers really don`t have that much impact on winning
and losing, and choosing in which cities to rest players
sounds even less significant than most of their other
difference is in the individual athletes. The race gap
is not huge in baseball, unlike basketball or sprinting,
because baseball depends more than on eye-hand
coordination. That`s a skill in which racial
differentials are smaller than in, say, lower body
1987, Bill James, the most important figure in the
history of baseball statistics analysis (see Michael
Moneyball for how James` findings have made the
Oakland A`s highly successful despite a small payroll),
undertook a study called "Evaluating
a Rookie" to see what best predicted long term
success. Not expecting to find anything, he picked 54
pairs of players, one black and one white, who had had
nearly identical first year statistics. (For example,
Henry Aaron and Gus Bell). He then tabulated their
results were astonishing," reported James. Of the 54
black rookies, 82 percent turned out to enjoy better
careers than their white doppelgangers. In total, the
blacks went on to play 48 percent more games in their
careers, hit 69 percent more home runs, and steal 400
percent more bases.
seemed to be faster runners, keep their speed longer,
and better combine speed with power.
plain truth is that Dusty Baker is right about physical
anthropology. Lots of visible differences in people stem
from Darwinian adaptations to climate. This was studied
intensively before about 1965. But since then a major
effort has been made to toss this vast body of knowledge
down the memory hole. For example, none of the
fascinating books of the great anthropologist
Carleton S. Coon (1904-1981) are in print today
(although you can buy them used at
As you can
see from the hard time Baker is being given, these days
we`re supposed to celebrate diversity – not notice it.
for example, correlates reasonably (but hardly
perfectly) with intensity of sunshine. Dark skin is less
prone to bad sunburns and skin cancer. On the other
hand, dark skin heats up more under direct sunlight.
effect is terribly important in the major leagues,
however, because ballplayers are discouraged from
there are several other physiological features that
matter besides skin color.
wrote in his 1965
bestseller (!), Living Races of Man:
"Comparative physiological studies of Negroes and
whites have shown than Negroes surpass the whites in
tolerance of damp heat but are more vulnerable both to
dry heat and to cold."
various causes of this. Two that are particularly
relevant to sports performance: shape and body fat
bodies with higher surface to mass ratios shed heat
faster. Blacks tend to have longer limbs and smaller
torsos than whites. Michael Jordan, for example, has a
famously high center of gravity.
Coon`s words, black males tend to have "when young
and in good health, little subcutaneous fat."
they tend to be less insulated than whites, allowing
them to disperse heat more easily. And blacks in top
shape have a higher percentage of muscle, making them
quicker on average. (Jordan, for example, maintained a
three percent body fat percentage, which is why he
never learned how to
swim—he sinks like a stone.)
team should be able to demand that its million-dollar
white ballplayers keep themselves trim enough to avoid
is right about history too. The single biggest reason
that blacks outside of Africa tended to live in hot
zones has been their superior resistance to warm weather
diseases. Before clean water supplies and antibiotics,
blacks simply outsurvived other races in hot climates.
Fortunately, modern life makes this less important.
continents, there are regions where blacks lived
primarily in the hot lowlands while other races
clustered mostly in the cooler highlands.
in the Andean countries of northeast South America,
blacks tend to be found near sea level, with whites
higher up, while only mestizos and Indians thrived at
very highest elevations.
T.E. Lawrence noted that on the Red Sea coast below
Mecca, Arabs stuck to the hills and deserts and assigned
their black slaves to farm the "feverish valleys of
running water, whose climate was too bad for Arab labor,
but where they flourished."
in Madagascar, the black people live primarily in the
lowlands, while the inhabitants of uplands trace their
descent back mostly to Southeast Asia.
Here in the
United States, the Scotch-Irish from the north of
Britain flocked to the Appalachian highlands, shunning
the fever swamps of the Tidewater.
David Hackett Fischer pointed out in his famous
Albion`s Seed, these racial differences had an
enormous impact on the history of America. He notes that
the cold climate of colonial Massachusetts
"proved to be exceptionally dangerous to immigrants
from tropical Africa, who suffered severely from
pulmonary infections in New England winters. Black death
rates in colonial Massachusetts were twice as high as
whites` – a pattern very different from Virginia where
mortality rates for the two races were not so far apart,
and still more different from South Carolina where white
death rates were higher than those of blacks. So high
was mortality among African immigrants in New England
that race slavery was not viable on a large scale,
despite many attempts to introduce it. Slavery was not
impossible in this region, but the human and material
costs were higher than many wished to pay. A labor
system which was fundamentally hostile to the Puritan
ethos of New England was kept at bay partly by the
line: Dusty Baker was right. He was indeed “just
saying the facts."
That`s why he`s in trouble.
[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and