By Ronald Blum, Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) — Baseball players' union head Tony Clark says a poor job has been done of marketing Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, the reigning AL MVP.
"Mookie should be a household name," Clark told the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Tuesday. "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 earned his fourth straight All-Star selection after helping Boston win the World Series last year.
"In the grand scheme of things with respect to players that should be at the forefront of every conversation and should be in conversations even with non-baseball fans, Mookie is one of them," Clark said. "No doubt about it. And unless or until we fix that, it's going to be difficult for others to be a part of that conversation, too."
Clark said baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred probably would be in position to answer what is required to increase Betts' recognition.
"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 entered the All-Star Game to start the eighth inning but did not have any plate appearances.
"There were other guys that we wanted to play," said AL manager Alex Cora of the Red Sox. "There were a lot of first-timers, and we kind of mapped it out. And he was going to come up in the ninth. It just happened that we won the game."