With the number of African American baseball players now at historical lows–7.7%, MLB Comissioner Bud Selig has assembled a task force of 17 to find ways to increase African American youth interest in the sport.
The news was reported by USA Today from three baseball executives speaking anonymously. The task force will be made up of owners, executives and coaches, including the likes of Frank Robinson and White Sox VP Kenny Williams.
The amount of African American MLB players is at its lowest point since 1959 when the Boston Red Sox were the last team to integrate. Hall of Fame 2nd baseman Joe Morgan chimed in on the issue:
“I never thought I’d see anything like this,…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.”
To date there are currently 4 MLB teams without a single African American player–the Giants, Cardinals, Mariners and Rangers, and an additional 18 teams with 2 or fewer African Americans.
Programs such as Riviving Baseball in Inner Cities or RBI have been around since 1989 building academy schools in urban neighborhoods and trying to get more Black kids interested in baseball, but apparently it’s not enough.
No doubt the draw of the NBA and the NFL have got African American youths attention more than baseball by a long shot, but is all hope lost? Is everything Jackie Robinson and those before and after did to pave the way all gone for nothing, and if not, what can be done?