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BOLD BROTHER: In his first season with the Dodgers, Orlando Hudson's outspoken personality has brought life to the clubhouse where his predecessor Jeff Kent alienated several of the younger Dodgers.Â
Say It Loud! I'm Orlando Hudson and I'm Proud
By Kenneth MillerSentinel Managing Editor
I had heard so much about the newly acquired Dodgers second baseman that I waited until mid August to see if the Hollywood culture had changed him.So, immediately after the Dodgers final game against the Chicago Cubs Aug. 23 at Dodger Stadium, I leaped on the elevator and rushed downstairs to greet him.Orlando Hudson had only appeared in the game as a pinch hitter, but there he was toweling off in front of his Dodger locker.After he was fully clothed I approached him and introduced myself as he pulled a South Carolina baseball jersey over his head.Hudson has been described as many things in his first season as a Dodger, but he is the direct opposite of former second baseman Jeff Kent, who had problems with Black players from San Francisco to Dodger town.A South Carolina native, Hudson has been in the major leagues for eight seasons and has played for three teams, Toronto and Arizona before arriving here.He has won the coveted Gold Gove as second baseman three times and been an All Star once in 2007.This season he has been a difference maker on a Dodgers team that the leading contender for the NL West title.His sparkling defense at second base has not been the only element that Hudson has brought to the Dodgers franchise.Although his .291 batting average is among the best on the team, his .358 on base percentage 18th best in the NL, he has hit 30 doubles and has 134 hits in 120 games, but as impressive as those numbers are they are not what is most impressive about Orlando Hudson.In a generation when Blacks are featured more on American Gangster and Cops, while others shun their community for acceptance into the elitist society, Hudson is among the few Black athletes in any sport who openly embraces his ethnicity and is not bashful about it."I'm a real one. I am a real brother and I am not shy about it and I want to go to Crenshaw and Watts wherever the Black kids are and embrace them," said Hudson.He is not for everyone as a Los Angeles Times reporter found out after the game when she was gathering information about the pressure the Colorado Rockies were putting on the Dodgers.Perhaps it got a bit boring when the Dodgers were commanding a double digit lead in the division, with the Rockies closing in, what better time than now to ask if the players feel the heat from their pursuers.After bouncing from Joe Torre to Matt Kemp, she was in for a big surprise when she encountered Hudson and inquired if he was hearing footsteps.Hudson emphatically told her that the only footsteps that he was hearing was those of his own and those of the reporters such as her coming to ask questions.It may not have been what she was looking for, but then rarely in a sea of white reporters does an African American player feel confident in speaking his mind.It's refreshing in a day when most Black athletes want to fit in where they can get in, instead of being who they are and damn who cares about it.The Dodgers have more Black players this year then they've had in recent years and all of them are producing.For the team that hand picked Jackie Robinson to become the face of color in Major League Baseball, along comes Orlando Hudson who is the face of urban America.He's not boastful when it comes to his play on the field he allows for that to speak for itself.However, he's concerned when he looks out into the stands and doesn't see many kids of color cheering for the home team and he wants to do something about it."I have to do something to get those young Black kids out here to the ball park and be an example for them," he said.What he doesn't know is just by merely being who he is and the way he is suggest that it's okay to be Black and it's okay to be yourself, and that is what many before him did not do, perhaps could not do.Hudson is proof that it's all right to be unique and it's all right to be who you are.Of course after I left him I went out and played in the media exhibition game and wore number 13 to be like Orlando Hudson, and I'm damn proud of it.Â