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Orioles Belle: In League of His Own

October 1, 2000

BALTIMORE (AP) _ Baltimore Orioles outfielder Albert Belle says he knows how Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron must have felt.

In an op-ed piece published Sunday in The Baltimore Sun, the Orioles slugger compared himself to other notable black players who faced prejudice in their careers.

``I have never received prestigious accolades, been acclaimed as a hard worker, winner, or team player, and have received unwarranted treatment that only Jackie Robinson, Curt Flood and Hank Aaron could have experienced,″ he wrote.

Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball and Aaron received death threats when he neared and later passed Babe Ruth’s career home run record.

Flood refused in 1970 to be traded from the St. Louis Cardinals and battled for the right to free agency all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled against him.

``Just being able to lead by example and ‘stand tall’ through perceived controversies make the whole baseball experience worthwhile,″ said Belle, who rarely talks to the press.

``Yeah, although it’s nice to consider football, I made a decision to play baseball many years ago and each day I am blessed for the better,″ he said.

Belle, 34, who earns $13 million per year, batted .281 this season with 23 homers and 103 RBIs. It was his ninth consecutive season with 100 RBIs or more, a record surpassed by only three players in baseball history.

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