Washington Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle spent three years at the University of Virginia before being drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 2007. The former Cavalier has drummed up a reputation for being outspoken on many social issues, a rarity in Major League Baseball. So when news and scenes of this weekend’s white nationalist march in Charlottesville that included participants bearing torches, Doolittle could not go without voicing his concerns over the such a country-dividing spectacle.
“I hope people not from this area of the country understand that the people that were marching in and around U-Va. and Charlottesville, they’re not from there,” Doolittle told the Washington Post’s Jorge Castillo. “These aren’t people that represent the school or the community. This was a rally where people came from other parts of the state, other parts of the region. Because that area, that town, is an incredibly accepting and diverse and embracing community.
“So it’s really frustrating that they chose to go there from the outside just to march and spread their hatred. I just found out that somebody died from the car thing today. It’s past the point of hearing what they have to say, spreading this kind of hatred. Saying, ‘You will not replace us.’ … You aren’t the ones at the risk of being quote-unquote replaced by some of this administration’s policies. And it’s just white fear. It’s the worst kind of hatred. It’s disgusting.”
Doolittle visits Charlottesville frequently during the off-season and remains in contact with the coaching staff of Virginia baseball, according to Castillo. A distraught Doolittle then put the onus on the community there to rise above the hatred displayed.
“This is kind of a litmus test for these people because they come from other areas and they specifically chose this place and they’re going to come here to see how the community is going to respond,” Doolittle said. “How the state and the country is going to respond and I think it’s up to the people there, the people in that community, the people of the U-Va. community, I know they’re going to step up and they’re not going to let that kind of hatred win. So it’s just really sad.”
As tension of racial and cultural divide in the nation increases especially in recent years, athletes have been known to use their platforms to speak out on the matter more so from the NBA and NFL. However, there has not been similar effort from MLB. Doolittle has been an exception and on Saturday he continued to be at the forefront on a challenging issue, hoping that the community he spent valuable time in will echo his strong opposition of the message conveyed by organizers and participants in Friday and Saturday’s march.