The percentage of African-American players in Major League Baseball has decreased to similar levels as in the 1950’s after Jackie Robinson broke MLB baseball’s discrimination code.
Professional baseball is changing. The now-regular defensive shifts driven by data, the focus on home runs, spin rates from pitchers and hitters’ exit velocity have altered the way the game is played, managed and consumed.
But baseball has changed in a different way.
Watch any major league game and you will notice the absence of U.S. Black players. Lamonte Wade Jr. is the only Black American (Johnny Cueto is Domincan; Chadwick Trump is from Aruba) playing for the San Francisco Giants. Tony Kemp is the only Black player for the Oakland A’s.
The decline of African-Americans in baseball is an ongoing issue. Just 7% of the players on opening day rosters in Major League Baseball this season were African American, down from a high of 18.7% in 1981, according to the Society of American Baseball Research. Black people currently make up 13.4% of the population, according to U.S. Census Bureau stats.
“Everybody has written about it, but they haven’t done a damn thing about it,” Astros manager and Sacramento native Dusty Baker said in a phone interview with The Bee. The number of African Americans in baseball has decreased steadily since the mid-1990s, a cause of concern for America’s pastime. T
he ratio of Black players in the majors now mirrors the rate from the late 1950s.
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