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African-Americans in Baseball

JESSICA BADER: Every year, as Major League Baseball commemorates the anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the sport’s color barrier, the massive baseball punditosphere tends to ponder the declining percentage of baseball players who are African-American (now generally around 10%, a far cry from the nearly 30% in the mid-1970s). The increase in foreign-born players is often cited as a major factor, as is the expense involved in participating in organized youth baseball. While these are undoubtedly significant contributors to the sparse African-American presence in the major leagues, I think the college and minor-league structure of baseball as compared to the other major American sports plays a major role that is often overlooked.

JASON CLINKSCALES: The decline of an African-American presence in baseball is one of the sorest subjects in all of American sports. Honestly, just like anything else dealing with race in America. The sport that rightfully venerates Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby for painfully, but successfully ushering in a new era in the game and society has found its percentage of black baseball players decline sharply over the last decade. To its credit, Major League Baseball hasn’t sat on its hands, but if it’s serious about kicking those numbers up again, they could use a LOT more help from their amateur partners in the NCAA. Just as other sports have been able to cull talents in the amateur ranks prior to their arrival in the big leagues, baseball could use a bit more of effort from college programs to recruit just as heavy as their counterparts in basketball and football. Continue reading

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