The Nine: Nine Questions with former Grizzlies' righty Jarrod Cande
In 2022, Fresno Grizzlies starting pitcher Jarrod Cande was one of the most dominant players on the field and one of the most exemplary men off the field. Media Relations Coordinator Stephen Rice sat down with Cande this offseason to discuss his views in regard to Black History Month and
In 2022, Fresno Grizzlies starting pitcher Jarrod Cande was one of the most dominant players on the field and one of the most exemplary men off the field. Media Relations Coordinator Stephen Rice sat down with Cande this offseason to discuss his views in regard to Black History Month and what it means to be a Black athlete.
Here is the conversation for Minor League Baseball’s “The Nine” initiative:
Stephen Rice: I want you to talk a little bit about your upbringing/background, including your role models in your life.
Jarrod Cande: I was raised by interracial parents. Mom is black and she is from the Caribbean Islands actually. Dad is white and from West Virginia Beach. It is about as straightforward as it gets. I wasn’t served everything on a silver platter. I had to earn everything. It brought me a sense of accomplishment. Everything I had to work for, all the way from making the Varsity team in High School, getting A’s and B’s in high school, as well as going to college at Florida Southern, the oldest brother of two younger siblings that also made it to college, now to pro ball. Everything wasn’t easy. I had to face certain adversities. I have had the race card played on me. Like saying this is a “white” man sport, etc. But I say, you haven’t met me yet, I am a baller, get ready, buckle up.
Stephen Rice: What was discussed at an early age in terms of possible obstacles you could face as a black man in society? Let alone, a black athlete.
Jarrod Cande: I wouldn’t say it was obvious that race was discussed but there were always looks when I showed up. When I get out of the car, then my mom gets out and then my dad. People talk differently towards you, they are timid to say certain things. Meanwhile, I am just a normal guy, out here to have fun and play baseball or do whatever just like you are. There is no difference between me and somebody else. It was frustrating because I would notice a lot when I was like 15-17 and when I got older and truly understood what was going on.
Stephen Rice: What are your hopes or concerns for your family, community, including baseball community and/or the country about these “barriers”?
Jarrod Cande: Honestly, I am looking forward to seeing it bust wide open. Over the years, starting to see more and more black athletes up at the top. I am not even talking about baseball, this goes for basketball, football. But in baseball, we have plenty of guys coming up through the system that are black men that are out here competing for the same spots. And a lot of these other guys may not like that they are coming in and balling out. They are putting in the work and it is fun to watch. These black men are already brought into this world with some negative opinion about them. These opinions are based on others and what is going on in their communities and also not knowing what they are. That is the main obstacle I see, but we are on the come up and making change.
Stephen Rice: Where does racial disparity exist in sport?
Jarrod Cande: I feel like racial disparity is here and there. I feel like it is more predominate when you get older and older. As a younger kid, oh he is so cute, he plays well, he is so cool. But then you start to dress a certain way, you start to hang around a certain group of friends, etc. And you could hang around the wrong group of friends and get in trouble with those guys because it may give you limitations towards yourself. It is just frustrating and see all that stuff. People look at us a different way when we play.
Stephen Rice: Is there such a thing as “White” and “Black” sports in America?
Jarrod Cande: No, absolutely not. I don’t believe that at all. If you take off everybody’s skin, we are the same under. We all have muscles; we all have bones. I don’t know see what the whole difference is just because we talk a certain way or the color of our skin.
Stephen Rice: As a colored player, do you think you would receive more or less opportunities as a player?
Jarrod Cande: I didn’t see it as much. I didn’t realize it until I started hanging around certain people. I was a part of Pro Youth Foundation by Chip Lawrence, who is a professional scout. Well I was around a bunch of black players. Once I started that when I was like 15-16, I started to see the differences in how we were treated when it comes to playing baseball. I have a few buddies that had to play at a bunch of different colleges because they didn’t get the same opportunity because of one incident that happened in their lifetime. That incident could have been when they were 10, 12 years old, but now they are grown men that are now looked upon as we need to watch out for this guy. If you take a white individual, they are looked upon, okay he made this mistake, but he will okay, we will push him forward. But when a black man comes in, it is like oh hold on, let’s see what happens here. It is not fair.
Stephen Rice: Where does that bias come from?
Jarrod Cande: I think it comes from historically. It is sad to say, it is 2023, you would think people would change their ways of thinking. You know, many different opportunities have opened up for black families and communities, but you still have those people, even people I have come across, where they will throw out their accomplishments that their non-colored parents had and their grandparents had. But I tell them you are not your grandparents because the history that happened then is now different. From laws or how we act. The future is coming and it is here.
Stephen Rice: What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life? Does this involve race?
Jarrod Cande: My sense of purpose is something that I can teach people about race. I was taught that whatever was said about you doesn’t matter, you just have to keep moving, just prove to them why you are here. I have proven myself countless of times from going to college, being in pro ball and showing who Jarrod Cande really is. This isn’t just me, but a bunch of my other friends too. They have shown what they have and what they can do out there in the world. If that is what I can teach younger kids especially in the younger black community, then great. Look, you are going to be looked down upon, off chump, they are going to have a certain stigma about you already. I would say watch what you say, be respectful, polite and go out there and play the game the right way. You will be perfectly fine.
Stephen Rice: How can someone who maybe didn’t grow up around a Black community learn how to educate themselves on the culture, or how to respect others?
Jarrod Cande: You just have to expand your boundaries. Honestly, if you go out to play basketball with your friends and you see people playing on the other side of the court that are playing hard, rough and talking a lot of smack, go join them. That will build a lot of character. Playing with others that may not go easy on you because they are coming there to win. Here is what we have and if you want to hop in, then hop in, but we aren’t going to treat you differently, we are going to treat you like one of the guys. If you start to expand your horizons, you will start to see that a lot of those guys are actually really well-rounded people. They get really good grades, they have these academic accomplishments, they have these business accomplishments, sports accomplishments. It is just being able to understand where everybody came from and for us to then move as a whole.