Baseball, politics collide in Mississippi Senate race

Social media has made it too uncomfortable for Major League Baseball to support a candidate with racist views.

Over the weekend, Judd Legum, who writes a political newsletter, reported that the commissioner’s office had donated $5,000 to Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is in a runoff election for U.S. Senate from Mississippi.

After ESPN picked up Legum’s reporting, MLB backtracked.

In its article on baseball asking for the money back, the New York Times notes that Hyde-Smith’s public statements contradict baseball’s efforts to promote diversity.

Hyde-Smith, a Republican appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant in March to replace Thad Cochran, who resigned for health reasons, is facing Mike Espy, a Democrat, in Tuesday’s runoff election. Since M.L.B. made the contribution, further reports have come to light showing Hyde-Smith’s support for the Confederacy. In a photograph on her Facebook page, she is shown wearing the cap of a Confederate soldier and holding a musket. The caption reads, “Mississippi history at its best.”

She was also seen on video espousing voter suppression among college students to a small group of supporters after the Nov. 6 general election. Hyde-Smith is heard to say that it would be “a great idea.” She later labeled the comment a joke.

She said the same thing about her earlier statement, made at a rally on Nov. 2, that she would happily sit in the front row for public hangings. The comment stirred up the painful history of lynchings in Mississippi and elsewhere.

The owner of the San Francisco Giants , Charles B. Johnson, and his wife also made the maximum contribution to Hyde-Smith’s campaign.

Marcos Breton, columnist of the Sacramento Bee, said that’s enough for him to jump ship.

Johnson and his wife made the Hyde-Smith contribution nine days after the “public hanging” comment surfaced, according to the Chronicle.

Well, that says a lot. This comes after Johnson donated $1,000 last month to a political action committee that made racist robocalls in Arkansas.

I don’t really know what is in Johnson’s mind or heart, I only know what he has done. And what he has not undone. Those actions have consequences. I’m not going to add to his riches, even indirectly, by supporting the Giants with my money so he can turn around and support racists or racist causes. The Giants are a wonderful organization that has created at AT&T Park one of the best fan experiences anywhere. They have supported AIDS research for years. They raise money for many wonderful charitable causes.

But they do so by being a financially powerful organization and Johnson’s money is a big part of the equation. You can try to compartmentalize that all you want, but that’s what denial does– it paves the way for acceptance of the unacceptable.

I can’t do that, so I’m not spending my money on the Giants as long as Johnson and his odious political leanings are part of the picture. I love the Giants but not enough to go along with people who support hateful ideas that are suddenly resurgent because we are allowing them to be.

Walmart, AT&T, Leidos, Union Pacific & Boston Scientific have also asked their donations to the campaign be returned since Hyde-Smith made racist joke about attending a “public hanging.”