Sport: The Complexities of Complexions

Struggles in living color on all the playgrounds

In 1980, not 1890, a curious circumstance struck Tony Perez as the great Cuban hitter chatted behind Boston's batting cage. "On the entire 25-man roster," he said, "the Red Sox have one black and one Latin, and I'm the one." Someone mentioned Jim Rice. "Disabled list," said Perez. "Mike Torrez?" That made him sigh. With a gaze of pitying forbearance that is becoming a familiar look in all kinds of sports arenas, Perez explained, "A Mexican from Topeka, Kans., is not a Latin."

In this area no lesson is too basic, as recent events proclaim loudly. Commemorating the 40 years since...

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