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The Lack of Black Influence in Baseball

The issue about the lack of African Americans in baseball is one that is very important to me. I grew up loving baseball and all that it had to offer. I remember when every kid wanted to be like Ken Griffey Jr, Barry Bonds, Ricky Henderson, Tony Gwynn, and Frank Thomas! In today's age, that love for a baseball player is not there and the interest for the sport has fallen off, especially in the black community. Today, the black athlete only makes up 8% of the MLB. Black athletes have taken over the flashy and exiting sports of basketball and football, but have lost interest in baseball. Why is that? Is it because of baseball's slow pace or the lack of a recognizable presence of African American baseball players to look up to? The history of baseball had many great black baseball players, but what can we say about today's athletes?

Some of the premier Black Baseball players in History Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron

Baseball is America’s pastime and a sport that the black athlete first broke the color barrier. In fact, the black athlete changed the way the game was played and opened the door for teams to even consider players that were not white. Because of that, we have a lot of dominican and hispanic players in the league, and to a fault, they have taken over. However, now is a perfect time to resurrect the black athletes in the sports. There are a few black players that could be real role models for young black ball players to look up to. Some of these include Matt Kemp, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Torii Hunter, CC Sabathia, Curtis Granderson, Adam Jones, and Andrew McCutchen. What baseball needs to do is find a way to highlight these players to the black community to show them that we can play baseball and its fun. Advertisement dollars are spent on basketball players and football players to reach young athletes. Those same messages can feature some premiere black MLB players in them to show that baseball is attractive as well. If you really look at it, there are no recognizable commercials with black baseball players so that could be something ad agencies should consider. Reaching out to the black athlete also needs to come from the black athletes themselves. Kids love to see actual athletes that have made it in sports. Give back to the community and open up more baseball camps and activities, therefore pulling more kids to the sport. It is a shame that we have abandoned a sport that first gave us our shot to prove ourselves.

One thing we fail to realize is that baseball players actually make more money than the other sports and the playing careers are longer as well. It’s not instant gratification (like a huge contract coming out of high school or college), but it pays off! Baseball actually takes the time to develop their players so that they actually earn what they make. If we were smart, we would go back to the sport that gave us our first stage.The advice I would give to young black athletes is this; “Don’t limit yourself to just basketball and football.” Baseball is a sport that you can enjoy and play for a long time. Check out some of the videos below on the issues of blacks in baseball and let me know your thoughts.



Rollins & Howard on Race and MLB

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3 Comments on The Lack of Black Influence in Baseball

  1. Such a fascinating topic, Steve.

    I do think it’s a financial issue more than a cultural issue, though. Baseball–played till 18–just costs too much. Days of the sandlot are gone.

    Great article here. I care deeply about this issue.

  2. Dexter Foreman // July 12, 2012 at 11:09 pm // Reply

    I feel it’s about the appeal. I somewhat agree with Chris McCoy @chrisamccoy but AAU basketball til 18 is a pretty penny as well. I’m not sure what needs to be done to make it more appealing in the black community but the 8% in the MLB does need to go up. Maybe it needs to be introduced in early years along with basketball and football?

  3. I don’t think early years would do to much because a lot of kids play baseball when they are kids. Yea there are no more sandlot games anymore (possibly because the lack of public fields, cost of equipment, and how easy it is to have a pickup game of football and basketball) but I think they need to reach the teenagers. During those years, a lot of kids start deciding on what to focus on and like the video says with AAU teams now, they force the kids to focus on one sport which is wrong. Teenage years are the trendy years for young people, and if they start a trend to play baseball, then a lot teens may follow.

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