On his first day in town, Syracuse Chiefs new manager Tony Beasley sat for an early morning chat that proved thoughtful when he referenced, in the context of Jackie Robinson’s 1947 breaking the major league color line, Moses Fleetwood Walker, the actual first African-American to play in the bigs in 1884. Thoughtful since Walker played on Syracuse’s International League teams in 1888 and 1889. And he quickly established perspective for his new job when reflecting on the irony of minor league status—everyone really wants to be on another team, a major.
“That’s probably the greatest challenge that you will face at this level,” he observed. “It’s a good thing because that’s incentive to play well. On the flip side of it, somewhat it’s demoralizing because a lot of times in their minds they believe that they should be there.”
Even tougher for a manager, he noted, “Mostly a team is not etched in stone until probably two days before the end of spring training. A large number of those players spend the whole spring in major league camp. When they’re sent down, it’s a blow. You have to hear them out. You have to let them know you understand, you care.”
He also displayed perspective on the frustration of heading into the playoffs and having the parent club grab two key players.
“It’s inevitable,” he said. “That’s why it’s important to get everyone involved. That guy that you think you may not need, you’re going to need.”
Where are the diamonds in the playgrounds?
Beasley believes that ball players need to get out in the community to show people they’re not just ballplayers, and in particular should be connecting with youth in the inner-city. Last year the Chiefs brought Otis Jennings on board to make inroads for the team in the communities of color, a challenge for which, as a person of color, Beasley also has perspective. “You look at the playgrounds,” he maintained, “the first thing you see is a basketball court. You don’t even see a baseball field. If you build a baseball field, and put a little incentive there for kids to play, and you give them leadership and guidance and teach them how to play, I think you’ll find there are a lot of kids [who] will fall in love with it.”
As with the players he will manage this summer, Beasley too shares the aspiration of moving on up to the majors. “Definitely,” he admitted. “As with any job, you should aspire to be at the top. Not at the expense of anyone else, but when an opportunity presents itself, I would love to be prepared, and be the guy who steps in. But that’s down the road. I’m very content to be where I am right now. Very happy. Very pleased.”