Andrew McCutchen is having an impressive spring, reaching 1,000 career runs and 350 career doubles in the same game, guest-starring with Mookie Betts on an episode of the beloved children’s cartoon Puppy Dog Pals, and continuing to be one of the most fun personalities in the game.
But some fans got upset with Cutch on Twitter after he appeared on Sunday’s postgame Zoom in a cap that had a logo that looked very familiar to the Phillies division rival New York Mets. After all, social media is a breeding ground for jumping to conclusions.
Thankfully, a few fans on Baseball Twitter knew what was up.
Then Cutch himself set the record straight:
Let’s set aside the obvious fact that it would be absurd for Andrew McCutchen, who is in the third year of a three-year contract with the Phillies that pays him $50 million, to show up to a postgame presser wearing a Phillies tank and a Mets cap. It doesn’t even make sense.
But more importantly and unfortunately, it shows how little baseball fans know about the Negro Leagues, a cause McCutchen has championed for a long time. As one of a dwindling number of American-born Black players in MLB and a member of the Players’ Alliance, Cutch has devoted his time and energy to educating fans about the Negro Leagues. And based on how many fans thought he was wearing a Mets cap, the baseball world still has a lot of learning to do.
Let’s take a look back at some of McCutchen’s many Negro Leagues tributes and projects:
In 2019, Cutch and his Phillies teammates, coaches, and other staff paid a visit to the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City for a tour. Before the pandemic, many MLB teams or individual players would go to the museum when their team was in town to play the Kansas City Royals. Hopefully, this tradition will resume as the world continues to reopen.
On Opening Day 2020, Cutch rocked a Philadelphia Stars jersey, much to the delight of Negro Leagues Museum President Bob Kendrick.
For the Negro Leagues centennial last summer, McCutchen joined the #TipYourCap movement and made a video to teach baseball fans about Negro Leagues baseball in Buffalo, New York. He wore a Kansas City Monarchs cap, a Philadelphia Stars shirt while talking about Hank Aaron’s debut, the women of the Negro Leagues, and the barnstorming Indianapolis Clowns.
In September 2020, Cutch posted two more videos about different Negro League teams.
In the first, he donned a Black Yankees jersey in a video that poked fun at his own time with the Yankees and told stories about the New York Black Yankees. In the second, he talked about one of the greatest hitters in the history of the Negro Leagues, Baltimore Blacksox slugger, “Boojum” Wilson.
During the 2020 postseason, McCutchen made another video, this time to teach baseball fans about Smokey Joe Williams, the ‘greatest pitcher from Texas’ and the son of a former slave.
This year on Opening Day, the percentage of American-born Black players on MLB rosters was only 7%, down from 7.7% in 2020. According to a January 2021 piece on Cronkite News, that 7% is the lowest since Jackie Robinson retired from the game. SABR notes that since 1981, the percentage of American-born Black players has declined at a steady rate.
Astros manager Dusty Baker is one of many who have spoken out about the issue, the Negro Leagues Museum has a prominent voice on social media, and McCutchen is using his platform to educate fans, but it’s clear that there is so much more to be done.