Jason Fernandes" />

On May 22, 2014 LaGuardia Community College held an event titled:”Sports and Race in America,” sponsored by LaGuardia’s African Heritage Committee. The keynote address was given by Met’s Hall of Famer and 1986 World Series champion, William “Mookie” Wilson. The high- light came when Mr. Wilson handed out awards to the LaGuardia Red Hawks players and coaches of the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Mr. Wilson spoke on how sports played such a significant and positive role in this country and went further. “There is an ugly truth to sports. Sports figures are used to make money. First of all, nobody knew sports would be as big as it is in this country, but it is.” Mr. Wilson went on to say: “It’s OK for you to play football when you are 27, or younger, but what happens when you are not that fastest guy on the field anymore. We push you aside and bring in the next one. That is the ugly truth.” Mr. Wilson acknowledged all the good things sports brings athletes, but he emphasized that there is life after sports. It is one, he added, that must be fueled by the education an athlete receives.

Kenny Baez, who received one of the awards presented by Mr. Wilson, is graduating and has been scouted by numerous schools, including Xavier University in New Orleans. Mr. Baez’s reply to how it feels to receive so many offers? “I always had confidence in my game, but to see that people have noticed, shows the hard work has paid off. It makes me feel good about myself, a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.” When asked what Mr. Wilson said to him, Mr. Baez said, “Mookie congratulated me on graduating, and told me how good it is to see a minority doing something more than just playing sports.”

At the beginning of his speech, Mr. Wilson said: “I don’t know why people call me Mookie. Along the line, people just started calling me that. If I knew why I probably would be able to write another book.” With Eric Sherman, he has written “Mookie: Life, Baseball and the ’86 Mets.” Copies were available for purchase and signing by the author after his talk.