Killer Mike’s vision: Reviving Baseball’s soul and winning hearts

The Grammy-winning rap superstar shares his passion for baseball, Atlanta sports, and a game-changing plan to bring more fans to the ballpark.

Hulu's "Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told" Atlanta Screening
Hulu's "Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told" Atlanta Screening / Paras Griffin/GettyImages

 If you ever collected baseball cards as a kid, you know the fever. The thrill of tearing open a fresh pack, hoping to find that elusive Ken Griffey Jr. or Derek Jeter rookie card. It’s a connection to our past, a tangible link to a sport that transcends mere stats and highlights.

Killer Mike, the multi-Grammy-winning musician, half of the iconic duo Run the Jewels, and an unapologetic activist. He’s not just about beats and rhymes; he’s got a game plan for baseball, and it’s as bold as his lyrics.

From Braves fandom to baseball cards

Growing up in Atlanta, Killer Mike was a die-hard Braves fan. He rattles off names like Dale Murphy, Bob Horner, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Andruw Jones with the reverence of a true aficionado. And let’s not forget Deion Sanders—the man who excelled in both baseball and football.

His love for baseball cards runs deep. His uncle worked for Topps, and Mike always had packs of free cards within arm’s reach. Those '90s cards? They’re still tucked away at his grandmother’s house, preserved in pristine condition.

Now, in a delightful twist of fate, Killer Mike is lending his booming voice to Topps. The stage is set for the release of Topps Series One 2024cards, and the cover features none other than Ronald Acuña Jr., the electric young star of the Atlanta Braves. It’s a nod to the past and a beacon for the future.

Revitalizing baseball’s soul

But Killer Mike’s vision extends beyond cardboard nostalgia. He’s on a mission to revitalize baseball’s soul, especially among the youth. In an exclusive interview with Yahoo Sports, he laid out his plan—a blueprint that could change the game forever.

Inner-City Baseball Programs: Killer Mike advocates for MLB to rekindle inner-city baseball programs. These initiatives would engage young children through educational and recreational activities, igniting their passion for the game. By bringing baseball back to the neighborhoods, we can ensure its future success.

Heroes in the making: Mike believes that stars like Ronald Acuña Jr. should be national heroes. Their impact transcends the diamond, inspiring generations.

"I hate that we had such good players, but we did not have the teams they deserved around them, Mike says. Like, Dale Murphy should be in the f***ing Hall of Fame right now."

Championship dreams: The Braves’ near-greatness in the '90s left an indelible mark on Killer Mike.

"The Braves should have had five championships, he asserts. Even with recent losses like Freddie Freeman, Mike sees hope. I think the Braves stand the best chance of bringing us multiple championships."

Killer Mike's reflection on sports

Killer Mike reminisces about his childhood as a huge Braves fan, recalling his favorite players from different sports. He mentions collecting baseball cards of players like Dale Murphy, Bob Horner, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Andruw Jones, and Deion Sanders. In football, he mentions old-school Steve Bartkowski, and in basketball, he recalls Dominique Wilkins and Michael Jordan. He also expresses his admiration for Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, despite them being Mets players.

Killer Mike's reflection highlights his deep connection to the Atlanta Braves and his fond memories of specific players from his childhood. It showcases his passion for sports and the impact these athletes had on him during his formative years.

"When I was a kid, I was a huge Braves fan,” Mike recalled . Collecting Dale Murphy, Bob Horner. Then, of course, in the ‘90s, you had [John] Smoltz, [Tom] Glavine, Andruw Jones, Deion Sanders. In football, old-school [Steve] Bartkowski. Basketball, of course, you had Dominque [Wilkins] and [Michael] Jordan. And even though they were Mets, I [liked] Darryl Strawberry and Dwight [Gooden]"

 Killer Mike's grandfather's lesson

Killer Mike's grandfather taught him about the economic impact of baseball in the Black rural South. He explained how the barnstorming leagues brought economic growth during weekends, as people engaged in various economic activities to cater to the influx of visitors. Through this, Killer Mike learned about the significance of the game, the Negro Leagues, and the importance of commerce in the community. This highlights the broader historical context of barnstorming in African-American baseball and its multifaceted impact on the local economy and culture.

"He taught me how baseball affected the economy of the Black rural South,Mike says. When the barnstorming leagues would come through on the weekends, that was an economic upswing because whether you made pies or you cooked sandwiches to sell, there was that economy that was brought to these places. So my grandpa helped me understand not only the importance of the game and the Negro Leagues but the importance of commerce, too."

Killer Mike’s passion for baseball isn’t just about nostalgia; it’s about shaping the future. He envisions a game where every child has a chance to swing a bat, where heroes emerge from the inner cities, and where championships become reality.

So, as you tear open that next pack of baseball cards, remember Killer Mike’s words:

"Baseball isn’t just a game; it’s a connection to our roots, our dreams, and our shared love for the sport."