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*Torii Hunter was born on this date in 1975. He is a retired Black professional baseball player and activist for youth baseball in the Black community.
He was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. One of four boys of Theotis and Shirley Hunter, Torii Kedar Hunter was a gifted athlete who idolized his older brother, Taru when he was young. His mother was an elementary school teacher in Little Rock, and his father was an electrical engineer in cotton and with the railroad. With their long hours on the job, providing the bare necessities was sometimes a struggle. Young Hunter slept on a towel on an old mattress in his bedroom and the boys often looked after themselves.
Hunter learned to cook by age 10, baking cakes was his specialty. The family lived on the east side of Pine Bluff, where crime and drugs offered tempting shortcuts to distracted youth. The four Hunter boys were crazy about sports, however, which provided a perfect alternative to life on the streets. Hunter, who possessed surprising speed, had a sixth sense for tracking down footballs and baseballs. Taru challenged his little brother to run down long bombs and deep flies, and marveled as the ball settled into his soft hands no matter how far he had to run for it.
He and his wife Katrina began dating in high school, and then they were apart while she was in college and he was in the Minor Leagues before marrying in 1996. Hunter was selected as the Twins' first-round pick in 1993 out of high school, and made his debut with the Twins as a pinch runner in Baltimore on August 22, 1997. It was not until 1999 that Hunter began starting regularly, playing in 135 games for the Twins. He finished with only one error in 292 chances in the outfield. He was an outspoken critic of civil rights in sports during his career. In 2005 in reaction to comments by Detroit Tigers outfielder Gary Sheffield concerning the future of African Americans in baseball, Hunter suggested that the proliferation of Latino players in Major League Baseball restricted opportunities for black players.
After turning down a three-year, $45 million deal in August 2007 from the Twins; Hunter signed a five-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim worth $90 million. In 2012, Hunter and the Detroit Tigers had reached a two-year agreement worth $26 million. He would be playing right field and batting second in the lineup. In 2014, Hunter agreed to a one-year deal worth $10.5 million with the Minnesota Twins, with whom he had previously played. Over his final season, Hunter batted .240, hit 22 homers, and drove in 81 runs. During a game on June 10, 2015, Hunter was ejected and reacted by heaving pieces of equipment and then taking off his uniform shirt and throwing it to the ground. Hunter received a 2-game suspension for the incident.
Hunter contributes to many charities, including the "Torii Hunter Project Education Initiative", which provides college scholarships to students in California, Arkansas, Nevada and Minnesota, the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, a partnership with Major League Baseball to help maintain and improve baseball diamonds in inner cities, the Big Brothers and the Prostate Cancer Foundation. On October 26, 2015, after the season had ended Hunter announced his retirement from baseball.
Hunter is a Republican, endorsing gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson in his successful attempt to become governor of Arkansas.
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