From the department of randomness, comes a story about Peter Ueberroth place in civil rights history:
There were a million people at the Martin Luther King Day parade in Atlanta in 1986, several hundred of whom still have a picture of Peter Ueberroth somewhere in their scrapbooks.
Many of them probably didn’t know who the white guy in the white Cadillac was on that cold day a generation ago.
Ueberroth was sharing the Cadillac with Rosa Parks.
As the two grand marshals made their way through the parade route, hundreds of moms and dads stepped up to the car and handed their small children through the window to the baseball commissioner, so he could hand the kids to Parks and the parents could have their babies’ pictures taken with an icon of the civil rights movement.
Two levels of fail in this article. The first comes when it says “Ueberroth remains unclear as to exactly why he was invited to participate in 1986, in one of the first big celebrations after MLK Day became an official holiday.” I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that Ueberroth joined the board of Coca-Cola that same year. I mean, clearly, a little Atlanta-based mom and pop beverage maker like that wouldn’t have had the pull to get someone like Pete Ueberroth into a local parade. Of course, if Ueberroth’s association with Coke had anything to do with it, the juxtaposition of a civil rights icon and a corporate plant would cloud up a nice little civil rights story, wouldn’t it?
Fail part II: The article goes on to note how “Ueberroth is also remembered for his efforts in furthering the cause of racial equality in baseball,” and “the progress he made in baseball,” without mentioning how orchestrating an illegal collusion operation in an effort to break a labor union fits into that legacy. Maybe we should just leave that assessment to historians.
Why do I even care? Well, for one thing, I hate Peter Ueberroth, so whenever I can make fun of him I do. On a less petty note, however, it’s important to remember that whenever you see a news article like this, it’s being written for a reason. The reason here? One never knows for sure, but given that it is highly doubtful that some reporter was randomly trolling 23 year-old newspaper archives, noted a story about Ueberroth, and decided to revisit it, we can guess that this is the work of a reporter or a press agent or someone wanting to place something that puts Ueberroth in a good light for whatever reason, and thought that associating him with this week’s Obamamania would further that purpose.
There will be a ton of examples of this sort of thing until the honeymoon is over, so while I will not deny that it is an inspiring and heady time to be an American, let’s not leave our healthy skepticism about, well, everything, at the door.