The number of homegrown black players in American baseball has declined in recent years. It reached an all-time low this season. Hopes for a turnaround lie with a new generation, such as the annual draft that began last weekend in Seattle.
Last year’s finals between the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies had a startling statistic: For the first time since 1950, there was no black American in the finals. “It looks bad,” said Houston’s Dusty Baker, one of two black coaches in the American major leagues. “It’s not something we can be proud of as a sport.”
At the start of the current season, now halfway through, a sobering new observation followed: Only 6.2 percent of baseball players in the league were black and American-born. The share was the lowest since the University of Central Florida began recording players’ backgrounds in 1991.
As an example
In the 1980s and early 1990s, black Americans still made up nearly a quarter of all major league players. Stars like Reggie Jackson and Ken Griffey Jr. They were flag bearers in the match. Baseball used to be a popular sport in America’s inner cities, but in recent decades the connection between Major League Baseball and America’s black population has faded. Basketball and American football became more attractive alternatives for young people; Getting a scholarship in two sports is easy. The proportion of black baseball players in universities is lower than in the professionals.
The lack of new symbols will further inhibit participation among Black American youth. Aaron Judge’s star status is therefore called for by the Major League’s leadership, which is underwhelmed by the situation. The imposing home run king of the New York Yankees was named the best player in his division last year.
Another explanation: Baseball can no longer hold the attention of black youth because the sport threatens to lose interest among young Americans in general. This season, the Major League shortened games. Old, unwritten rules about cheering home runs or challenging opponents have been loosened before. The game should be cool again.
Earlier this season, Major League Soccer proudly presented statistics on diversity in the league. According to the league, 40 percent of baseball players have “diverse” backgrounds. The largest portion, about 30 percent, comes from Latin America. The decline in the number of black American players has been accompanied by a sharp increase in baseball players from countries such as the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. They are popular with American clubs because they are not recruited through the draft, an annual selection round of new talent, but can be signed as non-exchange players. So contracts are cheap.
Scouts from professional clubs have lost sight of young, black and American baseball players in recent decades because the game has become too expensive at the youth level. Parents must shell out hundreds of dollars for equipment, training, and especially travel allowances. It is Travel ball The participation of many young baseball players is mainly aimed at wealthy families, a group that is even less likely to be black Americans. “Kids from the inner city are being turned off by the high prices,” says Devin Williams of the Milwaukee Brewers. USAT today. “There are very few people who play baseball.”
The Major Leagues have taken steps to turn the tide in recent years. Training camps for underprivileged children were set up across the country. The Dream Series, named after Martin Luther King’s famous speech, seems particularly fruitful.
A cautious turn seems imminent. The expert-compiled list of 100 Greatest Talents lists the names of many black American baseball players. In last year’s draft, nine of the first thirty players selected were black Americans. Experts say that the development of this year’s examination round from Sunday till today is also promising.
Whether the talent actually makes it to the major leagues remains to be seen. Only a small proportion of players, as usual, start in the development teams and make it to the highest level. “The foundation is there, but we still have a lot of work to do,” said Tony Regins, a former player responsible for finding talented black baseball players on behalf of Major League Baseball. “We have to be patient.”
The lack of black players is felt a little more each year on April 15, when Jackie Robinson is honored in the major leagues. In the late nineteenth century, black players were banned from the professional leagues. With Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, segregation in American baseball ended. The star player opened the gate for many.
The small number of black players currently in the major leagues is disappointing, said CC Sabathia of The Players Alliance, an ex-pro group that wants black people back in baseball. “Progress has been made. I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, but I notice a lot of digging going on.”
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