Why the Decline of African Americans in Baseball: Part 1


The year is 2001 and the New York Yankees are one inning away from winning their third World Series in a row. Mariano Rivera comes in from bullpen and the Arizona Diamondbacks manage to tie the game at two. Now they have the bases loaded and Luis Gonzalez drops a bloop single past Derek Jeter. The moments where you are at the age of your seat holding your breath hoping for the strikeout or the walkoff win are priceless.

The New York Yankees have established themselves as a championship franchise by winning 27 tittles. Known as the “evil empire” for its seemingly endless wealth and strict policies, they are the team you love to hate or as Columnist Mike Royko (1932-1997) put it, “Hating the Yankees is as American as pizza pie, unwed mothers, and cheating on your income tax.” This game has no barriers in terms of race, color, and gender but why is there a low turnout among African-Americans playing baseball?

You turn on the television and compare a game of baseball to a game of basketball and there is a significant difference among the players’ races, and according to Straden it has never been this low, “African American athletes are absent from professional baseball to a degree not seen since the integration of the sport”. Jackie Robinson is remembered the player who broke the color barrier in baseball thus opening the gateway for future all stars of non-white origin. Hispanics and Africa-Americans are the two largest minority groups in the United States and yet Hispanic turnout is much higher as stated by Sosa and McDowell, “In the 2007 baseball season…Latinos represented approximately one-fourth of MLB players and almost half of minor-league players were Latino”. Baseball is an ageless sport and people fall in love with the game when they are young, so why don’t African-Americans want to play?

The share of black MLB players reached a high of 18.7 percent in 1981, according to the Society for American Baseball Research. In 2014, 8.3 percent of players on opening day rosters were black. Before the most recent decade’s decline, the last time baseball had such a small share of black players was 1958.

The best way to look at why there is a decreasing amount of interest in the African-American community is to start from the very bottom and work our way up. We must assess the current state of baseball from childhood, high school, and at the collegiate level.

My investigation to this problem will lead me to conclude that there is a correlation between baseball and economic levels. The more economically stable a household is the more likely the child will participate in baseball. I will also present evidence that shows that many African-American children might not come from economically stable households. By investigating the playing levels, a better analysis can be made as to why economic stability creates low participation within the black community. I will also present my solutions to this problem in order to increase turnout.

Barbarisi, D. (2012, January 4). No Beards—And That’s Final. The Wall Street Journal.

Standen, J. (2014). The Demise Of The African American Baseball Player

DeLorme, J., & Singer, J. N. (2010). The Interest Convergence Principle and the Integration of Major League Baseball.

Sosa, J., & McDowell, J. (2011). Fan Perceptions of Latino Baseball Players and Their Influence on Overall Fan Satisfaction with Major League Baseball.

Ramos, J. (2014). Baseball’s Demographic Shifts Bring Cultural Complexities