These players trusted their organization — until their GM went pro-Trump on the team's Twitter account
The entire Scrap Yard Dawgs Pro softball team has left their organization this week. Many of them play for Team USA. (Photo by Robert Laberge / Getty Images)
Pro softball should have a moment.
It shouldn't come from a tweet and shouldn't take away the players' freedom of choice.
Scrap Yard Dawgs - an independent professional softball team based in Houston - have just started their seven-game series with the USSSA Pride in Florida on Monday, a festive moment for the return of professional team sport in the United States.
Instead, it felt "like a defeat," according to Kiki Stokes, one of two black players on the Scrap Yard roster.
Not because of the outcome of the game, but because of the racist tweet that Team General Manager Connie May sent.
"We just finished the game and went to the locker room," said Stokes. “Some of us had gone into the locker room and looked at our phones and I had some news about the screenshot. I froze immediately. Everyone around me asked if I had seen, and of course I did. As more and more people entered the locker room, it was the feeling of defeat.
"Our coaches came into the locker room, they didn't even talk about the game. They knew what we saw."
May, whose name is no longer listed on the USSSA baseball website where she is her ambassador to Houston, sent the insensitive tweet saying "Everyone Respect the FLAG!" At the beginning of the game on Monday. while President Donald Trump is tagged with a picture of the players standing during the prelude to the national anthem.
The tweet was deleted, but the damage was not.
"I was the only black player in the locker room at the time, so it was emotional for me, but you could tell that everyone was sad and angry, that someone spoke for us and we were blind," said Stokes. "After a game, that's the first thing you see, and it's really disappointing."
The first reaction in the locker room was anger and sadness, the frustration of being misrepresented in a sport that is already mostly white, and not an inviting space for many black athletes.
In 2019, only 8 percent of Division I NCAA softball players identified themselves as black. Stokes last played collegially in 2015 in Nebraska, but is now an assistant coach in the state of South Dakota.
The entire team left the organization and many tweeted that they would never play for the team again, a difficult decision in a broken pro softball landscape with limited options, and some of these options did not meet the players' wishes.
"[Scrap Yard] left the [Pro] league and a lot of people stayed with Scrap Yard, which I think was the right move at the time," said Monica Abbott, a pitcher who became the first million dollar professional softball player when she signed with Scrap Yard in 2015. “It's fragmented, but I also think it's just not where it needs to be. They want to make progress, but I don't think things are moving forward. It is not well organized. It's actually sad.
"There was room to grow, but it's stagnant, there is room to grow, but the teams are going. Where are you going from here?"
The Dawgs, whose squad mainly consists of representatives from the USA team, were members of the National Pro Fastpitch, the only organized pro softball league, until the end of the 2017 season. They went to operate independently, and after last season their pride followed.
This doubles the blow for Stokes, who has been with the Dawgs since day 1 - she and Abbott are the two longest serving players - and shakes her perception of the team she grew up with as a professional.
"I was the first team's very first draft pick," said Stokes. “I trusted not only my GM, but also the organization that looked after me. Well, it's like I'm on this team. Was I just a business farmer? "
The players are still deciding how to proceed. Many express a wish not to allow May's tweet to take her chance to play. Abbott described it as a “fluid” situation after the team held another meeting on Tuesday afternoon to make a decision.
The Pride tweeted Wednesday morning that they would postpone their remaining games. Their statement said that the players unanimously decided to stand on the Dawgs with the players while "thinking and determining how best to progress as a collective".
After Monday's game, May tried to speak to the team, but Stokes said there wasn't even an excuse before she left.
The team had already made its decision.
"It wasn't a great conversation," said Stokes. "She tried to justify what she tweeted and said some things that amazed us all. ... I was so upset, it wasn't an excuse, the team wasn't sorry, just trying to explain their case. My teammates, we all made the decision to leave. "
Along with the racist undertones of the May tweet, he took the players' voices from the team account and misrepresented them, which broke trust in a way that cannot be restored.
"We were shocked that the organization we represented would add something so personal to a team account," said Abbott. “Many things we work for in the sports world, we fight for many different things and this is a step backwards.
"Everyone went out, it's a moment I'll never forget, but a moment we should never have gone through."
Requests for comments by Scrap Yard Dawgs have not been returned at the time of publication.
Pitcher Monica Abbott, who plays here for Team USA, went out with her teammates from Scrap Yard Dawgs this week. (AP Photo / Sue Ogrocki)
Players want to play, but if they do, it won't be with a scrap yard on their chest. The unified message to stand against racism is more important than playing for one of the few pro softball teams in the world.
Abbott mentioned a potential charity game in Florida on Saturday, but it remains unclear what happens next when the Pride announces its move and the scrap yard players are still trying to figure out if they can fund their way to their own team.
No matter what the uniform says for the players who used to be with the Scrap Yard Dawgs, Stokes and her teammates don't allow May's actions to define their careers.
"A lot of people say we give up, but that's not the case," said Stokes. "We're still trying to play. We're in Florida and [coronavirus] cases are increasing every day. But we're trying to give people this hope that one person can do something and ruin it for everyone, but we're bigger than that. As powerful, empowered women, we can change something and still run with something that someone else wanted to take away.
"We don't want someone to take that away from us."
More from Yahoo Sports:
NASCAR driver Wallace's "relieved" noose was not aimed at him
MLB, players vote on 60-game season, July 1 reporting date, more
Kaepernick's former team shows the “Black Lives Matter” flag in the stadium
The struggle of the sport for return reveals the lie of the American state of emergency
You should check here to buy the best price guaranteed products.
The December 2021 Solar Eclipse Could Introduce *Major* New Chapters For These 4 Zodiac Signs
Josh Duggar Downloaded Images And Video Of Children As Young As 7 Being “Violated,” Prosecutors Said
Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner Just Made a Loud Return to High Society With This Fashion Show Appearance
Bobby Portis with a block vs the Toronto Raptors
Isaiah Roby with a 2-pointer vs the Memphis Grizzlies
Watch: Brian Kelly debuts sudden new southern accent