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Ray Duckler: Connor Treybig, a Ray of light, takes a stand

Connor Treybig, 11, sits for a portrait with his team's new hat in  Bow on Friday afternoon, May 2, 2014. Treybig plays youth baseball and is helping to lead the change in his Bow Athletic Club's team's logo from the Cleveland Indians' Chief Wahoo character to a Tampa Bay Ray. 

(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

Connor Treybig, 11, sits for a portrait with his team's new hat in Bow on Friday afternoon, May 2, 2014. Treybig plays youth baseball and is helping to lead the change in his Bow Athletic Club's team's logo from the Cleveland Indians' Chief Wahoo character to a Tampa Bay Ray. (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

He felt the sting of racism, hoped the source would be banned from the league and said he wouldn’t play without the appropriate measures in place.

LeBron James?

Nope.

Connor Treybig.

In March, the 11-year-old lefty pitcher in the Bow Athletic Club baseball program saw his team logo, Chief Wahoo of Cleveland Indians fame, and said uh-uh.

Not on my watch.

“Probably the biggest (concern) is the fact that it’s got a huge red face and has these really white teeth that stick way out of his face,” Treybig said. “It has a face, a creepy face, with triangle eyes and a big nose.”

Because of Treybig, the Bow Indians are now the Bow Rays. He’s a young voice in our intellectual evolution, the kid who’s not worried about potential eye rolling and laid his brick in a foundation opposing prejudice and stereotyping.

“If someone in my grade was harassed with racism,” Treybig said, “I would definitely stick up for him.”

He spoke at the Concord Sports Center, where he practices pitching and hitting. His mother, Dee Treybig, sat beside him in the game room, proud of a son who sees the world a tad differently than other grade-school kids.

“I think it’s important to do this article,” Dee said. “It’s important to be an upstander, not a bystander.”

She teaches a holocaust and genocide class at Bishop Brady High. The dinner table in the Treybig home serves as a stage for discussion, a place for dialogue about injustice and history and civil rights.

Connor and his 13-year-old brother, Garin, sit, eat, listen.

“I want kids to share their opinions about stuff,” Connor said. “I asked my mother a question about the Ku Klux Klan because we saw a movie and she told me what they did. And I was really mad about it and how they’re still around, with those white bed sheets and stuff.”

Undoubtedly, some in the BAC see Connor as a megaphone for his mother. They probably think the Treybig family jumped on board the politically correct express, making an unnecessary issue out of something that had no business in a youth sports program.

And besides, if it’s good enough for a major league team, detractors may reason, it’s good enough for little kids, right?

But while it’s safe to say Connor is a product of his environment, it’s tough to criticize a family climate steeped in awareness and sensitivity.

As the story goes, Connor was upset as soon as he received an email, the one announcing the name of the team. Chief Wahoo, the Indians’ mascot since 1951, was on the email.

“I was sitting in my living room one day and she came up to me and told me I was going to be on the Cleveland Indians,” Connor said, referring to Dee. “I said no, I wasn’t going to play for the Indians. It’s racist, and I’ve seen the logo before when I watch baseball. I see the logos.”

“The Indians won the championship last year and I was really mad about that, but I kind of forgot about it,” Connor continued, referring to the 2013 BAC champions. “I was not mad at the kids, but the logo, it’s really bad they won our championship.”

That won’t happen this year.

Dee inquired whether Connor could switch teams, but the talent pool had already been divided evenly. Plus, the hats featuring Chief Wahoo had already been paid for and shipped to the team.

So volunteers representing the team promised to retire the logo after 2014, which wasn’t fast enough for Connor.

“I would not have played this year,” Connor said. “I wanted to make our own team.”

Enter Dee, who shelled out $171, the cost of the Wahoo hats, so Rays hats could be made and worn this season, which opened yesterday.

Potentially, this could have been a major stink bomb, had coaches, parents or BAC officials not gone along with Connor, nudging him to follow his conscience.

But BAC President Doug Krause let those involved handle it, opening the door for a change.

“The BAC didn’t have an official position,” Krause said. “We were more than happy to work it out with volunteers to make people happy.”

Megan Rheinhardt is known as the Rays’ team mom. As is the case with many of us – most of us, really – she never viewed images like Wahoo as offensive.

“We never looked at it as an issue of criticism,” Rhienhardt said. “We looked at it as supporting a major league team.”

Her views, however, were molded to think about things in a different light.

“It’s a close and dear subject to the Treybigs,” Rheinhardt said, “and we want to make it comfortable for them and didn’t want anyone not playing because of this issue.”

So here we are in 2014, moving forward, fighting the good fight, stumbling at times, then regrouping.

P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens, who’s black, got torched with racist remarks on Twitter after scoring the winning goal Thursday night against the Bruins.

But NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life after Sterling’s racist comments were caught on tape.

Good thing, too, because players competing in the playoffs said they would not have taken the floor last week had this penalty not been imposed.

Closer to home, Belmont High held a forum last month to gauge interest in changing the school name from Red Raiders to something else.

Connor, meanwhile, knows this column will bring attention to what he’s done. His mother hopes that his friends won’t give him a hard time.

If so, Dee added, that’s the price you sometimes pay when pushing for change, when standing up for a cause, when fighting for something that’s close to your heart.

“Some people don’t understand,” Dee said, “that he might have people say to him that he shouldn’t have done this and he shouldn’t have made such a big deal out of it.”

So I asked Connor if he’s worried about receiving negative treatment from peers.

His answer was refreshing.

“Nope,” Connor said. “They’re just not like that.”

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @rayduckler.)

There were always bullies around when I was a kid back in the day. The difference between then and now was there were a lot fewer of them. Just like there were a lot fewer kids that were obese. That was rare. It appears that many parents do not know how to parent. That is obvious from raising my two kids and seeing how kids were allowed to talk nasty to their parents. It was like the parents were held hostage by their kids in regards to everything, material things, dating earlier and a host of other liberties that were allowed at younger and younger ages. Basic manners and respect was thrown out the window. You saw it everywhere. Even in sports, not fair my kid cannot pitch even though my kid cannot pitch. Everybody is rewarded. Well obviously that whole self esteem movement did not work. We have more kids who are in single parent homes, we have more kids who kids that are coded and drugged, and we have our sons going rouge and killing fellow students. We definitely have a parenting issue here. There is a lot of truth to the boys will boys statement. We pretty much have feminize our boys. Boys have always been a bit more physical than girls, more angry and needed outlets for what is human nature to them. They do not have a lot of outlets now unless you have the rare parent that allows them to climb trees, go fishing and ride a bike without having to wear a protective bubble suit. And we do seem to have an issue with respect. But if you do not respect your parents, it stands to reason you will not respect anybody else.

I think standing on principle is a good thing, no matter your age. But at an age with children should be having fun, enjoying their activities, why are they so inundated with ideology and politican correctness. What do children know about "racism". Connor has obviously been told by someone that using an Indian name is "racist". Is the parents or the school. We need to let kids be kids and enjoy their youth instead of politicizing it. That should be the main mission for parents. Schools? No we don't need social engineering and poltical correctness. Let's allow them to make their own value judgments.

Gonna disagree. I think one reason bullying continues to be a problem is that many kids aren't being taught at an early enough age not to discriminate and 'feel superior' based on genetic and other factors (sex, race, religion, etc). That line you used of "kids being kids" is too often also used when a group of belligerent punks are terrorizing and physically abusing another child and the parent is told "oh boys'll be boys" or "they're just kids being kids". No, teach them young to respect one another and show them there are consequences when you don't, so we don't have to keep reading stories of these kids when they grow up raping, attacking and killing other people and then the public sits around saying "How could this have happened?" It didn't happen overnight. It was years of others tolerating their intolerance.

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