The Baseball Exchange

Brand it by red

Marc Ecko has just announced that the votes from his site to decide the fate of Barry Bond’s 756th home run ball have been tallied and the results are:

Banish it: 19%

Bestow it: 34%

Brand it: 47%

Even better is the Hall of Fame’s reaction:

“This ball wouldn’t be coming to Cooperstown if Marc hadn’t bought it from the fan who caught it and then let the fans have their say,” [Hall of Fame President Dave] Petroskey told The Associated Press. “We’re delighted to have the ball. It’s a historic piece of baseball history.”

I’m glad the hall of fame isn’t shying away from this – they are a seperate institution not necessarily officially “endorsed” by MLB, or at least not owned by it. Therefore, it’s their duty to recieve anything donated to them, no matter if it’s contreversial, as long as it is, as Petroskey said, “a historical piece of baseball history,” which it undeniably is. Now, we just have to wait as to how they’re going to “brand” it. Duct tape should do the job.


One Dennis G Carrier in the comments section just pointed out some quite frightening and disturbing racial history of the term “branding.” I don’t really believe that Marc Ecko meant any racist implications, I think often many of those terms get tossed around without knowledge of previous uses and obviously Ecko should reconsider using it. Unless I’m missing a key point of Ecko’s beliefs or opinoins, as far as I know I don’t think he mean any implications like that. If, for example, Ecko had McGwire’s 500th home run or 62st home run ball in his possesion, and again, unless I’m not aware of past specific racist beliefs by Ecko, I doubt he wouldn’t not use the term “Branding.” However, it’s still important to be aware of those things pointed out by Mr. Carrier.


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September 26, 2007


The Commissioner of Baseball must move quickly to stop what will be a huge mistake in American race relations and an ugly black eye for the sport. “Branding” was something done to African slaves. African-Americans could boycott the Hall of Fame or even Baseball itself. How could Ecko be so dumb?

Marc Ecko will brand Barry Bonds’ record home run ball and send it on to Cooperstown? It’s time for the Commissioner to put his foot down on this one. If he doesn’t, he makes an enormous mistake in public relations and in race relations in the United States. This is one of the most irresponsible things I’ve seen done in sports in a long time. Let’s hope the Commissioner is responsible. Hall of Fame President Petroskey apparently is not. His mind must be changed.

The obvious facts are that Barry Bonds has never tested positive for steroids or found legally liable for steroid use or possession. In the United States we are supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. So to start with, this wacko fashion designer is ignoring the democratic ideals of his nation. And he has a track record of goofiness and irresponsibility in other areas. To allow this fiasco to proceed is basically a validation of the nutso dealings of an eccentric (a polite word for crazy) millionaire. The public good is being hijacked by a nut ball.

And there are present and historical public goods here. Baseball, like much of American culture, has a very ugly history of racism. A stunt like this reminds people that for the first half of the history of the sport, people of color were not allowed to play. The word “Branded” is an ugly reminder of slavery, as slaves were branded with a hot iron when they were auctioned. Bidders would hear them scream and could even smell the seared flesh. Slave ship captains also would brand slaves as they were loaded and chained into the hold. Branding was also done for other reasons; it was a mark of disgrace done to the body for a transgression against society. Symbolism is powerful, and this symbol says whites in America want a red hot iron seared into the flesh of this black man for allegations that have never been proven. Perhaps they would like to lynch him as well? If you study the history of lynching of black men, you will find that some of them indeed were branded before they were hanged. And, like Bonds, many were lynched over an unproven allegation.

Also, the United States is STILL dealing with harsh race issues and a prevailing undercurrent of racism. We’re getting better. And starting to heal. But when Mark Ecko does something like this, it opens old wounds and sets back race relations a decade. I don’t think Mr. Ecko realizes just how evil his actions are. Most crazy people don’t. Or is he just plain stupid and uneducated? He needs a lesson in history. Perhaps with a red-hot iron as a visual aid. Being wealthy doesn’t guarantee intelligence or proper education or a rational mind. Mark Ecko is proof of that. Marc Ecko will trot out his lackies and call in markers to prove he has African-American friends. “I’m not a racist; some of my best friends are Black.” Sure, we’ve heard that one before.

If the Commissioner allows this baseball into the Hall of Fame, Cooperstown will be branded as racist. Baseball will be branded as racist, and I certainly hope the players will put their personal animosities aside and close ranks around this in the interest of national unity and racial harmony. We could end up with an African-American boycott of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

It’s the natural result, and it’s probably the proper result. As Blacks will point out, none of McGuire’s stuff is branded. Because it was the ancestors of white people that branded black people, not the reverse. Whites were not branded and then sent out to pick cotton in the hot sun. Whites, such as Marc Ecko, did the branding.

Ecko tried to insulate himself from accusations of racism and undemocratic ideals by having his internet vote on the fate of the ball. It doesn’t work. To those that say that it lends legitimacy to his racism, I say the majority of Americans wanted to keep Blacks in slavery. A majority of Americans didn’t want Blacks to vote. A majority of Americans wanted to keep Jim Crow and segregation. Because a majority of Americans were once white racists like Marc Ecko. And actions like this make people think we still are a nation of racists. Why didn’t Ecko have a vote that Bonds be publicly flogged? Then he could be whipped AND branded.

If the ball is refused entry into Cooperstown, a disgraced Mark Ecko can put the defaced ball in his office and stand there staring at it while chanting “I am not a racist.” If he chants it enough, he might continue to believe it.

Dennis G. Carrier

Comment by Dennis G. Carrier

I just wanted one addition. The racist garbage, including death threats, that came out when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record. Also, people who access my site will find it under construction.

Comment by Dennis G. Carrier

Just one more and I quit. Slaves in America were also branded if they escaped or talked back. Some were branded on the face. As a dedicated historian, I am meticulous.

Comment by Dennis G. Carrier

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