State College Spikes second baseman DeAndre Shelton is an avid TikTok user, with a recent video drawing hundreds of thousands of views and sparking a conversation about diversity in the sport.
Following State College’s 9-2 victory after a 6-inning game on Thursday afternoon, Shelton discussed different ideas for more viral videos. His biggest hit on the social media platform has been his TikTok with teammates infielder Marques Paige and pitcher J.D. Daniels. The TikTok has more than 500,000 views, over 160,000 likes and over 2,000 comments. It features the three players doing the “Curry Sway,” a dance move popularized by Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, with the caption, “POV: There is more than one (ninja emoji) on your baseball team.”
All three players are Black Americans and looked to bring attention to the rarity of having three players of the ethnicity on the team.
“It’s just something that I do with my free time,” Shelton said. “I just have fun off of the field. I didn’t think it would have any type of global look on TikTok. It’s just something that I do to kind of get away from the game. It’s always good when you can see African Americans or anybody of color and just more diversity in the game. It promotes growth in the whole game in general.”
The TikTok was posted on Sunday after the Spikes’ 7-0 road victory against Mahoning Valley. Daniels recalls heading to Sheetz around 10 p.m. and the video already had 600 likes. Shelton told him, “Wait until the morning.” The video jumped to 20,000 likes by 10 a.m. on Monday. Two hours later there were 50,000 likes. With every hour, it continued to grow until it was the talk of many baseball circles.
The MLB Draft League has made a point to promote the growth of the game among all races, specifically African Americans. Former Grambling and current Memphis head coach Kerrick Jackson, who is Black, served as the president of the MLB Draft League in 2021. Former Pirates and Dodgers utilityman Delwyn Young managed the Spikes during the 2021 season. Still, Black players only made up 7.2% of Opening Day rosters, according to Newsweek, the lowest percentage since The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport began tracking the metric. Black pitchers make up an small fraction of that.
Daniels, a former pitcher at the historically Black Tuskegee University, is looking to change that.
“I went to an HBCU,” Daniels said. “In Atlanta, there’s a program called Minority Baseball Prospects. They host an HBCU All-Star Game to help get Black kids to play the game and it also allowed me to get seen and be here. Just to be able to have fun with it and that’s a relatable thing to kids nowadays is TikTok. So, I feel like just to see other people that are the same color say, ‘Alright, baseball might be a little fun.’”
As for Paige, he’s not new to playing for a team with multiple Black players. He played for the Spikes last season — a team that featured Hylan Hall, Daryl Loyd, Cameron Lee, Jason Alvarez and catcher Michael Dorcean with Young managing. The experience is something that the 24-year old infielder is looking to replicate once again this season.
“It’s a great experience,” Paige said of playing in the MLB Draft League. “Last year, I had Delwyn, Mitch (Jermaine Mitchell), Shane (Youman) and Jabari (Brown) and everybody knows that they’re also Black. Having an all-Black coaching staff was something that I’ve never been a part of. It was definitely one of the greatest experiences that I’ve had in the game of baseball. I wouldn’t have come back if I didn’t have the respect that I did for the league as well.
“You play against other teams and you see other Black guys playing, you get to connect and talk about the opportunity that we have playing here. We all know that with being Black in baseball, the chances aren’t really out there. Most Black people — we play football, we play basketball, we run track and stuff like that. So, it’s cool to connect with teammates and guys around the league that are trying to chase the same dreams as you and come from a similar background.”
Jacksonville State junior right-handed pitcher Isaiah Magwood and Marshall right-handed senior pitcher Louis Davenport, also a Spikes returnee, have joined the team. So, Shelton expects to make more TikToks with his teammates in the near future.
This story was originally published August 5, 2022 8:00 AM.
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