Playing Baseball: A Job Americans Won`t Do?

When I sit down to write my

weekly VDARE.COM columns
, one of the pitfalls that
awaits me is sheer temptation.

I start research on one topic but
then I soon find myself lured down an altogether
different road.

What should take two hours turns
into a six-hour stint as one

Google search
leads inevitably to another

Such are the fascinating interwoven
complexities of the immigration issue.

Two weeks ago, for example, I

wrote about
the grousing of some Hispanic minor
league baseball players about their chances of making
the majors.

"We
have to do it three times as well
,"
said San
Jose Giant Eliezer Alfonzo in reference to how he has to
perform on the field vis-à-vis his American teammates in
order to get a promotion.

That started me wondering: how do
minor league players get to the United States? Do they
to go home after their season ends and their visas
expire? What happens to them if they stay?

The answer to my first question is
easy. Unlike major league players who enter the U.S. on
a

P1 visa
,

minor leaguers
depend on the all-purpose H-2B visa
for "temporary" employees.

During pre-911 years, baseball was
allotted 1,400 H-2B visas—a total that

baseball management
predictably viewed as
insufficient.

But last year, in the post-911
climate, fewer visas were available.

In some baseball quarters, the visa
reduction was referred to as a

"crisis"
that stranded quality players in
Latin America, Korea, the Caribbean and Canada.

And that caused the predictable
moaning and groaning: "Where are we going to find the
players to field a team?"

The Chicago Cubs` Director of
Player Development/Latin America, Oneri Fleita, said:

"When you can`t get eight
or ten players into your rookie league club, it is a
problem for the whole industry." [Immigration
VISA Shortage Hits Minor Leagues With Player Shortages
,

by Ronald Young, MLN
Sports Zone]

This hand wringing by
major league administrators assumes that no kid in the
US is interested in or capable of playing baseball
professionally.

The Cubs, for example, wouldn`t have to look very far. The

University of Illinois
produces fine players each
year.

Although major league baseball has signed U.S. college stars, it seems
to prefer Hispanics.

The reason: They are, in a word,

cheaper
.

About 700 Hispanic players—mostly from the Dominican Republic—come to
the US each year.


Dick Balderson
, the Colorado Rockies` Vice President
of Player Personnel, said

"Instead of signing four
(American) guys at $25,000 each, you sign 20 Dominican
guys for $5,000 each. The unfortunate thing about this
game is that there are so many people yearning to play
it especially in a country like the Dominican Republic,
where $1,000-a-year wages are the norm and baseball is a
religion practiced by the impoverished."

Miguel Tejada, now a full-blown Baltimore Orioles superstar with a
multi-million dollar contract, remembers that his first
contract was with the Oakland A`s for $2,000.

“`They don`t give us the
money because we don`t have the education,` said
Tejada.” (The
Dream: Trying to Make It in the Major Leagues
,
by Marcos Breton, APF Reporter, Vol. 17 #4).

For the three or four players a year who like Tejeda succeed, life is
grand.

But for the 695 or more who fail, they have nowhere to turn.

These young men are poor, uneducated and not always wise to the hard
streets where they inevitably land.

And, as VDARE.COM readers might expect, the rejected players overstay
their visas and remain in the US illegally.

According to a special report by Sacramento Bee reporter

Marcos Breton
titled

"Lost in New York: Baseball`s Latin Ghetto"

the Dominicans drift to

New York`s Spanish Harlem
to join their other
600,000 countrymen.

Ron Plaza, formerly the
manager of the Cincinnati Reds and now a roving
instructor for the Oakland Athletics, is quoted by
Breton:

"Out of 10 (Dominican
players) who are released, I`d say nine stay here
illegally. They would rather live in the worst areas of
New York than go back home. You can`t handcuff them to
the plane, so there is very little we can do."

Once in New York, writes Breton, for the displaced non-English speaking
player,

"Survival takes the form of

fake Social Security cards
, assumed names,

low-wage jobs
and tenements with bolted doors."

What goes on in baseball is a microcosm of the national disaster that
foolish federal immigration policies have created.

A handful of wealthy businesses or individuals—in this case major league
franchise owners—lay out a modest sum of money, hoping
that enough foreign players will make a splash in the
big leagues.

If owners are right, their wealth increases.

When they`re wrong, nothing much is lost—$5,000 a player. They move onto
the next crop of willing pawns.

But society—and not the owners— must assume the responsibility for the
players who failed.

To us falls the burden of

welfare
costs. We have to absorb whatever
consequences the now anchorless young men may create
with their antisocial behavior.

The cruel irony is that the

U.S. produces
an abundance of outstanding baseball
players every year.

This weekend the
NCAA College World Series
will begin in Omaha,
Nebraska. Many of the finest young athletes in the world
will have their skills on display.

The hottest team in the tournament is the

University of Nebraska
led by

pitching sensation
Joba Chamberlain.

In the opening round, the Cornhuskers will face the

Arizona State Sun Devils
and their pitching star

Jason Urquidez.

The
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
have already drafted Urquidez.
And Chamberlain, when he becomes a senior, will go high
in the draft too.

But whether or not either ever puts on a major league uniform may in
large part depend on what the

pitching crop
looks like in the Dominican Republic.

And that`s a real shame because kids like Chamberlain and Urquidez have
been dreaming about the

big leagues
since they bought their first baseball
card. They`re good enough to compete at any level.

For young stars like Chamberlain and Urquidez to get their shot, the
owners need to turn their attention away from the cheap
sources of players like the Dominican Republic—and pay
more attention to what`s going on at baseball diamonds
across America.

Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English at the Lodi
Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column
since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.