by JR Valrey, the People’s Minister of Information and the Editor in Chief of the SF Bay View
In mainstream media, “Black on Black” crime is heavily highlighted but not Black on Black solutions to community problems. The SF Bay View is taking a different approach, because we love and cherish the people in our community, and the media shouldn’t be about just frightening people into buying things, voting against their interest, doing things against their well being and furthermore. Black media should be about Black empowerment, it should be about strengthening bonds and ties with each other and it definitely should promote a knowledge of self.
Randy Taylor is a brotha that I met through longtime friend Antoine Goff and I was informed that Randy had a softball league that promoted anti Black on Black violence, with teams from ‘hoods from all over the Bay: San Francisco, Oakland, Vallejo, Richmond and other cities. As a community we have to learn how to resolve our problems as peacefully as possible among each other and realize that the system really wants to kill us all.
The founders of the “Batters Up, Guns Down” Bay Area softball league: Sean Robinson, Duke Despanie, Paul Bellazin and Randy Taylor deserve to be saluted because instead of just harping on the problem of community violence, they organized a solution by way of a league for people from different neighborhoods to get to know each other in a healthy and competitive environment.
People can still sign up to the league until the season opener on March 26, so lace up your cleats, tap in, and pull up if you’re interested. Check out Randy Taylor as he fills people in on what’s been going on.
JR Valrey: How did you come up with the concept “Batters Up,Guns Down”?
Randy Taylor: The concept of “Batters Up, Guns Down” came about from a desire to bring different communities and neighborhoods together in a positive way, through sports. The idea was to use softball as a means to promote unity, teamwork, and camaraderie among people from different backgrounds who might not otherwise interact. The name “Bats Up Guns Down” was chosen to reflect the idea that we can resolve conflicts without resorting to violence.
JR Valrey: How did you get people to join?
Randy Taylor: We started by posting on social media about hosting pickup softball games at Gilman Park in San Francisco. As more and more people from the community came out to play, we began to connect with teams from other cities in the Bay Area, who were interested in participating in our games. Word of mouth played a big role in getting more people to join, as players would invite their friends and family to come out and play. We also used social media to promote our events and to connect with people who were interested in joining.
JR Valrey: How did the concept of a league come about?
Randy Taylor: After hosting several successful pickup games, we realized that there was a demand for a more structured and consistent schedule of games. We wanted to provide a platform for people to come together on a regular basis and play softball in a competitive but friendly environment. That’s when we decided to form a league, which would allow us to organize games and tournaments more efficiently and give teams a chance to compete against each other.
JR Valrey: Where do the games happen?
Randy Taylor: In the past, we’ve hosted games at various parks and fields throughout the Bay Area, including Gilman Park in San Francisco, as well as in East Oakland, West Oakland, Berkeley, Vallejo, Fairfield, San Jose, Richmond and Sacramento. The location of the games depends on the availability of fields and the preferences of the teams involved.
What are the qualifications to play on a team in the league?
To play on a team in the “Batters Up, Guns Down” league, we ask that players be at least 18 years old and be willing to work together as a team while having fun and being competitive. We welcome players from all backgrounds and skill levels, and we encourage everyone to participate regardless of their previous experience with softball.
Which neighborhoods from the City have teams? What other cities are represented?
Currently, there are six men’s teams, one women’s team, and one co-ed team in the league, with players from a wide range of neighborhoods in San Francisco, including Bayview Hunter Point, Geneva Towers, Sunnydale, and Lakeview. We also have teams from other cities in the Bay Area, including West Oakland, East Oakland, Richmond, Berkeley, San Jose, East Palo Alto, Redwood City, and Sacramento.
JR Valrey: When is the season opener?
Randy Taylor: The men’s season for “Batters,Up Guns Down” is set to begin on March 26th, 2023, weather permitting. The first tournament event will be held on April 8th, 2023, which will be an Autism Awareness and Pre-Easter Celebration for kids.
JR Valrey: How can people stay online with you?
Randy Taylor: People can stay up-to-date with “Batters Up, Guns Down” by following our teams on Instagram: @Hottcitysoftball, @Hollyrockallstars, and @Sfpackers. They can also reach out to us via email or phone for more information about the league or how to get involved.
JR Valrey, The People’s Minister of Information, is the Editor in Chief of the SF Bay View. He is also the instructor for The Community Journalism Program.