Major League Baseball (MLB), sit at the heart of all American baseball fans. But as we all know, the United States is a cultural melting pot and a mix of different ethnicities. In recent years, there are more and more people of colour joining the MLB. Let’s just jump right into the question you first had in your mind when you clicked in this article – What percentage of MLB players are black?
Percentage of black MLB players
Based on Major League Baseball (MLB)’s report, 38% of all players in MLB as of the start of the 2022 season were players of color, which shows a 0.4% rise compared to 2021 figures. Among these players, approximately 28.5% were identified as Hispanic or Latino, 1.9% were of Asian descent, and less than 1% were either Hawaiian/Pacific Islander or Native American.
However, the proportion of players who were Black or African American on Opening Day rosters in 2022 was 7.2%. Compared to the previous year, there was actually a 0.4% decline.
According to a report released this week by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida, the Major League Baseball has a smaller percentage of Black players as of May 2022 than it ever had in any year since the early 1990s. USA Today also reported that, in 2009, the proportion of African-American players on Major League Baseball (MLB) rosters was 10.2%, a substantial drop from the 27% reported in 1975.
What’s more shocking is that, the 2022’s World Series, featuring the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies, there was not a single US-born Black player in the mix since 1950. This is the first in over 70 years where a Black player born in the US won’t be present. Considering the significant contributions of Black players to the sport, it’s difficult to accept that none will participate in this year’s World Series.
What Was The Highest Percentage Of Black Players In MLB?
The Society for American Baseball Research reported that in 1981, African American players accounted for 18.7% of the major leagues. This was a significant increase compared to 1947, when African American players first outnumbered white players at 14.3%.
What has been the composition of opening-day rosters at Major League Baseball in recent years?
in 2022, Three teams currently have no Black players on their roster, while the Seattle M’s have a higher number of Black players compared to the entire American League Central and NL West divisions combined. Chris Thompson is one of only three Black head coaches in NCAA Division I, and his team at Michigan University, which included seven African-American players, won the College World Series last year. Thompson believes that these players are not receiving enough recognition and attention and that finding them may require venturing into unfamiliar or uncomfortable neighborhoods or locations.
Why is the percentage of Black MLB players so low?
The lack of black players in Major League Baseball can be attributed to several factors, but the main reason is the limited opportunities available to black players. The TIDES organization has identified numerous issues affecting black players in MLB, including unequal pay, limited access to resources and facilities, and difficulties with recruitment and retention. The league’s structure, which is dominated by white owners who prioritize stability over innovation, further exacerbates these disparities.
There’s something a lot of people do not notice, the cost of playing baseball is HIGH. Playing youth baseball requires purchasing uniforms, gloves, cleats, and a bat for personal use at home. In contrast, when a kid registers for football, they typically receive a helmet, jersey, and shoulder pads. Youth basketball, on the other hand, only requires purchasing a jersey and shoes. Compared to basketball and football, baseball can be more expensive for families. With roughly 45% of young black children estimated to be living below the poverty line, it’s hard to imagine a lot of them would dash to apply for baseball considering their family’s financial situation.
While MLB has taken some steps to address these issues, such as increasing the number of black coaches, executives, and players in the farm system, there is still much more work to be done. MLB must do more to address systemic factors like unequal pay, limited resources and facilities, and recruitment and retention challenges that put black players at a disadvantage. Although MLB’s response to the TIDES report is a positive step, it is not enough to effect real change.
Another factor could be the rising popularity of the NBA and NFL. Nowadays, kids are way more into NBA and NFL, and the perception of baseball – meh, has become kind of “boring” and is considered as a time-consuming sport may not appeal to younger generations used to instant gratification through social media and cellphones. Attention spans have also shortened, and the NBA’s partnership with shoe companies creates a strong connection with inner-city youths, while the NFL’s massive television ratings, attendance, and merchandise sales have made it dominant in America.
This may be the reason why there has been an overall decrease in youth participation in the sport. A 2015 Wall Street Journal article reported that in 2002, nine million kids aged 7 to 17 played baseball, but by 2013, that number had decreased by 41%. As a result of this decline, youth leagues and teams have been forced to shut down or merge, which limits access to the sport for underprivileged youths and leads to a whiter and more affluent demographic.
The MLB has brought on former baseball player Ken Griffey Jr. to serve as a consultant and help restructure a system that benefits Black players. Growing up, Griffey Jr. had role models, such as his father, who made him feel welcome in the game. He thinks that Black players today lack this kind of support, which he considered as a key factor to motivate Black players to join and stay in the game.
Baseball and MLB used to and still has a big place in the hearts of Black families in the United States. Hopefully with MLB’s effort to support inner city kids and existing youth baseball league players, we could be seeing more rising Black MLB stars in the future.