A Tribute to Time
Lincoln University in Jefferson City is a historically black college with a baseball team made up mostly of Missouri kids. The Blue Tigers are also a perfect example of color disappearing from the diamond. It's a practice day before the Lincoln baseball team buses more than 20 hours to Billings, Montana for a weekend series. They are tossing around thoughts about the long trip.
"This road trip is going to be a lot of snow, not much sun and a whole lot of baseball," said one Lincoln baseball player.
Lincoln isn't much different from other Division Two baseball teams; Long road trips and double-headers. It is the make up of the baseball team that might surprise you.
"Considering we are a historically black college they are guessing your baseball team is predominantly black and you tell them no it's predominantly white and they look at you like you are silly," said senior catcher Ryan Becker.
"In our conference we never had one African-American playing baseball. Until we got to the regional tournament and played a Kansas City team, that is all I have ever seen growing up," said senior pitcher Adam Patch.
Tyrell Roseburrow is a bit of a modern day Jackie Robinson. He is the only black baseball player on the team.
"I knew what to expect. I really did not think there would be. Given the fact blacks don't play baseball. They prefer to play basketball or football because it is much more exciting," said senior outfielder Tyrell Roseburrow.
While the Lincoln football and basketball teams don't have trouble recruiting black athletes. Baseball coach Jim Dapkus doesn't find his recruiting grounds as fertile.
"When you go look at junior colleges in Missouri you are probably looking at 97-98 percent of the players are going to be white," said head baseball coach Jim Dapkus.
"They kind of look at it like, wow, you are the only black on the team, why its not something I really have an answer for it. I love playing baseball so that's what I'm going to do," said Roseburrow.
Roseburrow is a senior. That means Lincoln may not have any black players next season.
"Should there be one? I say yeah, we are a historically black college so I think there should be one," commented Roseburrow.
"We are actively trying to find players that are going to help us get better and it doesn't to me matter. We are looking for kids that are going to help our program grow," said Dapkus.
On the weekend that marks the 60th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson playing Major League Baseball, Roseburrow is planning an on-field tribute.
"I might steal home. Something like Jackie did. If I get the opportunity I might just do it on my own. Hopefully I will be safe and don't get in trouble for it," said Roseburrow.
"Hopefully he does. Hopefully its a game winning steal of home. That would be awesome," said Dapkus.
The Blue Tigers head coach says the solution is getting more African-American kids to play youth baseball, so they can develop a love for the game.
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