- Faith & Family
Major League Baseball recently celebrated its annual Jackie Robinson day — a day honoring the historic achievement of Robinson’s breaking the racial barrier of baseball back in 1947 when he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers. All around the big leagues players wore the number 42 that Robinson wore in his days with the Dodgers. It is a day of pride for many Blacks who love the sport of baseball. But it is also a cause for great concern as the numbers of Blacks in baseball have plummeted over recent years. I grew up watching with pride and admiration great Black ball players like Dave Stewart, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Willie Stargell, Dave Parker and J.R. Richard . . . It appears those days are long gone and by all indications not coming back.
Blacks in baseball have declined to 8.05 percent less than half the 17.25 percent in 1959 when the Boston Red Sox became the last team to integrate its roster — 12 years after Robinson broke in with the Dodgers. That is a long way from 1975 and the playing days of the Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds then powered by Black great Joe Morgan when 27 percent of baseball rosters were filled by Black players. Where have they all gone? Some would attribute the rise in popularity of football and basketball to the fact that many Black youth find more excitement in those sports compared to baseball. Ten MLB teams opened this season with no more than one Black on their roster and shockingly 25 percent of all Blacks in today’s game play for either the Yankees, LA Angels or the LA Dodgers. A lack of scholarships, lack of funding in inner cities and a lack of Blacks in front office positions have also contributed to the lack of interest in baseball by today’s Black youth. The truth is many of these great athletes would rather be on ESPN or some sports highlight show dunking a basketball or catching a touchdown pass. Baseball is not nearly as enticing as it used to be; interest has dwindled at an alarming rate while more foreign-born players have been added to the rosters. Somehow baseball needs to take a closer look at the way it is doing business, how the game is being sold in inner cities and bring the game back to people of color. With its checkered racial background, it would serve MLB well to try and find a way to turn those numbers around and bring more Blacks back to the sport that was once America’s national past time.
The Sports Brothers can be heard on WMEN 640 sports radio.
By The Sports Brothers