For Mensah, diversity not an issue with Hofstra baseball
When junior Myles Mensah steps onto the baseball diamond, he represents much more than Hofstra University. As the only current African-American player on the Hofstra Division I baseball team, and only the second since 2011, he represents an entire race in a sport that historically lacks racial diversity.
Beginning his multi-sport career at the age of eight, after only a few years of playing baseball, he fell in love with it, crediting his father – who also played baseball in college – for his love of the game. It wasn’t until the age of 14, however, that he began to get serious about it.
“Going into high school, I really sacrificed a lot of things to get to where I am today,” Mensah said.
As Mensah grew up, baseball “was a predominantly white sport. [On] all the teams I played on until high school, there was maybe only one or two African-Americans on the team.”
This lack of diversity quickly desensitized him to race.
“I don’t really see color,” Mensah said. “It doesn’t really affect me, [being Hofstra’s only African-American player] ... They’re all my teammates, we’re all people, we’re all here for the same goal and we love baseball, so I don’t really think it affects anything.”
Nonetheless, Mensah still looks up to iconic African-American players like Jackie Robinson whose 72nd Major League Baseball debut anniversary was celebrated last month on Monday, April 15.
“At that point in time, it was so hard to break a barrier like that,” Mensah said. “There [were] a lot of unfair things going on for Jackie Robinson. To have the courage and to be so brave to break that barrier is really great, and I can’t imagine how tough it was for him. I’m definitely thankful for a guy like him and I definitely look up to players like that.”
In his sophomore season last year with the Pride, the infielder was an academic redshirt and didn’t play in any games. This year, however, Mensah is very happy to be back on the field, not always as a starter, but as a solid contributor who has seen a lot of action as the team’s second baseman.
“It feels good to be [back] on the field,” Mensah said. “I can’t really explain how good it feels but it’s definitely a good feeling.”
While statistics don’t show him as the star pitcher or leading scorer, Mensah contributes in his own way, providing defense in the infield where it’s needed most.
“I don’t play every day,” Mensah said. “But I play when we need someone to play in the infield. I play solid defense ... I would say I’m a backup guy, but I get my time.”
The Pride have only seven games left in the regular season and are looking ahead to qualifying for the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.
“We know that we have to play as hard as we can until the last regular season game, and we think if we just stay together and be great teammates and play good baseball, we’ll be in a good spot,” Mensah said. “We just kind of want to keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing.”
As for his personal goals for the rest of this season and looking ahead to his senior season, Mensah looks to earn a bigger role and keep doing what it takes to help his team win.
“I just want to be able to get on the field every day and help my team win games every day, instead of [winning] here and there. I want to try and solidify a spot in the tournament [next year].”
Off the field, Mensah is a public relations major and admitted that balancing school and baseball is difficult. School ultimately comes first for him, though he makes time for both.
“I make sure I’m on top of all my school work,” Mensah said. “I think when you love playing baseball so much, you’re willing to sacrifice a lot of time to practice and do other stuff. I have really good time management.”
Mensah’s love for the game drives him to push himself to want to be better every day, to get more playing time and to contribute to his team’s success.
“[Baseball] is such a hard game and when you play well, it’s super rewarding – especially when you work your tail off every day to try and be a good player and you get rewarded. I think that’s the best part.”
Photo Courtesy of Hofstra Athletics