Is Major League Baseball doing enough to market its star players?
Tony Clark, executive director of the MLB Players Association, doesn’t think so.
Clark, a former big league first baseman, pointed to Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts as a perfect example Tuesday while speaking with the media before the 2019 MLB All-Star Game at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
“Mookie should be a household name,” Clark told reporters. “Mookie should be a one-name guy. You say Ronaldo. You say Messi. You say Mookie. You should know who Mookie is, and outside of the baseball world, I don’t know how many do.”
Betts accomplished pretty much everything in 2018: He earned an All-Star selection, a Gold Glove Award, a Silver Slugger Award and the American League MVP Award, all while guiding the Red Sox — an extremely popular big-market team — to a World Series title.
Yet casual fans still might not be aware of Betts’ standing among the world’s top athletes. MLB recently has had trouble exposing its best players to a global audience, and the 26-year-old is no exception despite his amazing talent.
“I want to be able to turn on the TV and see players on products with sponsors, licensees, up and down the rows of the streets, whether you’re in a big city or a small city, I would like to see them overlap in other sports and other industries and on TV and in commercials promoting movies,” Clark said. “I would love to see all of that, so that our guys are mainstream. Promoting our guys on baseball channels is not going to get us there. Baseball fans know who Mookie is. Non-baseball fans deserve to know who Mookie is.”
Betts, a four-time All-Star, is no stranger to the big stage. Maybe he’ll become a “household name” in time, like Clark envisions, but it’ll likely require an extra push from MLB, although commissioner Rob Manfred will be the first to tell you that’s easier said than done.