The African-American percentage in baseball is at its lowest since 1959.
Rafael Soriano of the Chicago White Sox. (Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig will announce Wednesday a new task force to help reverse the league's decline in African-American players, according to USA Today. The percentage is now at its lowest since 1959 when the Boston Red Sox became the last team to become integrated.
The presence of African-American players in the MLB has been on a steady decline since it reached its peak of 27 percent in 1975. This season, 7.7 percent of players are Black.
"I never thought I'd see anything like this,'' Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan told USA Today Sports in a telephone interview from Los Angeles on Tuesday. "But I've seen it coming. There, for a long time, there were a lot of African-American players to look up to and emulate, but there's not enough big stars now to dissuade them from basketball and football.''
Some of the teams have become completely whitewashed with no Black players at all on their rosters.
While Hollywood celebrated the premiere of "42'' Tuesday night, the story of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier in 1947, four teams opened the season without a single African-American player on the opening-day roster — the St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers. The Giants, who have won two of the last three World Series championships, did not have a single African-American player in their major-league camp. There are 18 teams who have two or fewer African-American players, with the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees accounting for nearly 17% of the African-American population in baseball.
"I'm not sure there's a way to stem the tide,'' said Morgan, Cincinnati Reds senior adviser. "There has to be more involvement to attract athletes to come here. Let's hope this committee will help. There's no doubt the movie will open eyes, but after that, let's wait.''
Major League Baseball launched its RBI program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) in 1989 and has built four urban academies with three others being developed. MLB rosters are comprised of 28.2% foreign-born players — the fourth-largest total in baseball history — but still struggle to attract many of the best athletes in the United States.
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