“The COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk that I am not comfortable taking,” Desmond wrote on Instagram Monday.
Desmond, a two-time All-Star who is biracial, added: “With a pregnant wife and four young children who have lots of questions about what’s going on in the world, home is where I need to be right now. Home for my wife, Chelsey. Home to help. Home to guide. Home to answer my older three boys’ questions about Coronavirus, Civil Rights and life. Home to be their dad.”
His post earned viral acclaim for its breadth and eloquence.
Desmond wrote about being abandoned by his stepfather at baseball practice as a boy, hearing high school teammates chant “white power!” before games and currently feeling that baseball’s ideals, and America’s, are failing.
He said he had to speak out.
“The image of Derek Chauvin’s knee on the neck of George Floyd, the gruesome murder of a Black man in the street at the hands of a police officer, broke my coping mechanism. Suppressing my feelings became impossible,” he wrote.
He called out Major League Baseball’s systemic woes as well.
“In clubhouses we’ve got racist, sexist, homophobic jokes or flat-out problems,” he wrote. “We’ve got cheating. We’ve got a minority issue from the top down. One African American GM. Two African American managers. Less than 8% Black players. No Black majority team owners.”
Desmond, 34, was originally scheduled to make $15 million for a normal season’s work, the Denver Post noted. If he does not have medical issues, he would surrender the prorated portion of his salary.
The 60-game season is scheduled to begin late July in ballparks without spectators.