Cameron Maybin was in the opposite dugout last week at Detroit, as the Cubs discussed whether to join the protests spreading across sports.
The Cubs would later lament how little time they had to make the decision – the two teams did play, but Jason Heyward sat out. Heyward said he suspected that if the Cubs had a game scheduled the next day they would have voted to not play.
The Cubs didn’t have that opportunity, but the Tigers did. Their game against the Twins was postponed, as they joined teams across professional sports leagues in promoting racial justice after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“I think it was really important that guys that have our platform show our concern, especially guys who are African American” Maybin said Wednesday, in his first Zoom session with Chicago media since being traded to the Cubs at the trade deadline. “I always say, a lot of these communities don't have a voice, and you don't hear about these issues until you see athletes or entertainers tweeting about and talking about it. Otherwise, it would just be a lot of communities still voiceless.”
Maybin is a founder of The Players Alliance, a group of over 100 Black current and former professional baseball players committed to increasing opportunities for Black communities. He and Heyward sit on the active player advisory board, and Cubs reliever Jeremy Jeffress is also a member.
In addition to several Players Alliance members sitting out for games last week, both with their teams and as individuals, its players pledged on Jackie Robinson Day to donate two days of their salaries.
“Just like anything else, I think it only changes with educating each other and having the conversations, doing what we're doing now,’ Maybin said. “You’ve got to crawl before you walk, so it's nothing that's going to happen in a flip of the switch. But you do have to start somewhere, and you're seeing that now. We're starting somewhere, and letting that that fire not burn out I think is going to be the key.”
According to Maybin, Major League Baseball has been involved in the Alliance’s cause and open to discussions on racial justice.
“As well as guys around the league,” Maybin said. “You go to these parks, and I saw a few guys in the Pirates dugout wearing the Players Alliance shirt.”
Those shirts read, “One team, one dream.”
When he was still with the Tigers, Maybin said, they had a team conversation about what it was like to be an African American man, both in baseball and in this country more broadly.
“Just the acknowledgement, the love that I got back, was just awesome,” Maybin said.
It was a good starting point.