Major League Baseball, which has been under fire in recent years for its failure to recruit U.S. Blacks, is beginning to see a surge in African-American players, according to a new survey.
Seven years ago, the pool of African-American ballers amounted to 8.2 percent of the league. Last year, they accounted for more than 10 percent of Major League ballplayers.
Also up is the percentage of Black pitchers, up 2 points for 5 percent; and the number of Black infielders, up from 7 percent to 9 percent.
"I feel encouraged. It's not a huge leap, but it's a step forward," said Rachel Robinson, the widow of Jackie Robinson, the first African American signed to the big leagues. "I think we have to feel encouraged, not only feel encouraged but feel inspired by progress so that we can not only sustain what we have, but work harder to see that we get that number up in future reports."
For the first time during the dozen years that Richard Lapchick has been publishing his annual report, baseball received an “A” for race hiring.
The survey, released Wednesday, noted that 10 teams had minority managers at the beginning of the season –five were African American, four Latino and one Asian-American – and five minority GMs: three African Americans and two Latinos.
When it comes to gender, the sport got a “B” an improvement over last year’s “C+.” The progress, Lapchick said, is substantial.
"They're still behind the NBA but they've gained ground consistently over the last three or four years. They're a very close second to the NBA," he said. "They've really been the industry leader in working with minority vendors. That has built up a well of good will for baseball in the African-American community that really didn't exist 15 years ago."