BLACK DIAMONDS: The State of Blacks in Baseball, 2011

Posted: April 14, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’m not going to cut corners, because there’s no need to. The focus on Major League Baseball within the black community is at a low. Perhaps it is outdated, or not up to the accustomed speed of this generation’s overall lifestyle, but by any measure, all levels of focus on the game (at every level) is at an all-time low. There are a variety of claims why this is from the unenthused about the game.

“The season is too long.” …. “Everybody that plays is cheating.”….”It’s too boring.”

All of these claims and elements are raised against the game frequently. However, another clear factor that keeps away much of the Black community is the simple fact that it isn’t easy to identify with on a social level. Many people may turn on the game looking for a familiar face, and find it to be like trying to find Waldo in a fitted and cletes. Of all major professional sports, the MLB has the smallest representation of black players of any of them. And actually, it’s not even close. There is an 82 and 62 percent Black presence in the NBA and NFL, respectively. Even more, there are three times as many Latinos amongst the MLB ranks than there are Blacks (27% to 9%). The demographics of baseball look very much like an acurate description of what a U.S. census would actually look like soon.

However, the game is far from being a color devoid contest in regards to it’s former primary minority, as many of the top players in the game are among that 9%. The small overall number does not limit the large impact of Blacks on the game. Last year, the total number of Black All-Stars stood at 13. In MVP voting at the end of the year, three of the top 20 finalists were American-born Blacks. In the American League, the two runners up for the Cy Young Award for top pitcher were Black (with 3rd place candidate CC Sabathia previous being the 2007 winner). When Ron Washington managed the Texas Rangers all the way to the World Series, a black man still stood underneath the brightest lights the league has in October. Headed into this year, there is a strong possibility that the only new electee to the Hall of Fame will be a black man, former Cincinnati Reds great Barry Larkin.

Price won 19 games a year ago and has quickly become among the elite pitchers in baseball.

In last year’s state of the game and it’s black influence, I listed the top 10 Black stars in the game, along with a state of the culture’s impact on the sport in history. That element clearly still remains, although it is dissipating due to a loss of focus and interest in the sport from younger generations. The sport’s place in the history of the race remains; baseball has played a critical role in the advancement of Blacks as a people in the nation over the last 60 years. From producing groundbreaking pioneers such as Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby, to Civil Rights leaders such as Frank Robinson and Hank Aaron, to cross-cultural superstars such as Derek Jeter and Ken Griffey, Jr. The race has advanced the game tremendously, and continues to do so to this day.

In the spirit of this trail, this year’s list isn’t about a showcase of the “talented 10” Black players in all of the game. Rather it is a listing of every African-American player on each team in the League, along with a listing of managers, executives and a few top prospect, coming attractions as well.

Of the 30 Major League teams, 28 have at least one American born Black player, for a total of 63 currently on MLB rosters. While there aren’t a lot of us, there is still major noise coming from the small crowd. Tune in and support us.

*-Denotes 2010 All-Star

Arizona Diamondbacks (2): *Chris Young, Justin Upton

Atlanta Braves (1): *Jason Heyward

The Braves Heyward, at only 21 years old, stands to be the next major Black star in the game.

Baltimore Orioles (2): Adam Jones, Derrek Lee

Boston Red Sox (3): *Carl Crawford, Mike Cameron, Darnell McDonald

Chicago Cubs (1): *Marlon Byrd

Chicago White Sox (2): Edwin Jackson, Juan Pierre

Cincinnati Reds (2): *Brandon Phillips, Fred Lewis

Phillips took home a Gold Glove Award last season while leading the Reds back to the playoffs.

Cleveland Indians (2): Grady Sizemore, Michael Brantley

Colorado Rockies (1): Dexter Fowler

Florida Marlins (1): Mike Stanton

Houston Astros (2): *Michael Bourn, Bill Hall

Kansas City Royals (2): Jeremy Jeffress, Jarrod Dyson

Los Angeles Angels (3): *Torii Hunter, *Vernon Wells, Howie Kendrick

Los Angeles Dodgers (4): Matt Kemp, James Loney, Marcus Thames, Tony Gwynn, Jr.

Very few players have to overall ability Kemp brings to the table.

Milwaukee Brewers (4): Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Nyjer Morgan, LaTroy Hawkins

Minnesota Twins (2): Delmon Young, Denard Span

New York Mets (1): Willie Harris

New York Yankees (3): *Derek Jeter, *CC Sabathia, Curtis Granderson

Oakland Athletics (2): Coco Crisp, Tyson Ross

Philadelphia Phillies (5): *Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Ben Francisco, John Mayberry, Jr., Domonic Brown

Howard already has one MVP under his belt, and is well on his way to a Hall of Fame-caliber career.

Pittsburgh Pirates (2): Andrew McCutchen, James McDonald

San Diego Padres (5): Orlando Hudson, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, Eric Patterson, Kyle Blanks

Seattle Mariners (2): Milton Bradley, Chone Figgins

St. Louis Cardinals (1): Jon Jay

Tampa Bay Rays (2): *David Price, B.J. Upton

Texas Rangers (4): *Arthur Rhodes, Darren O’Day, Darren Oliver, Julio Borbon

Toronto Blue Jays (2): Rajai Davis, Corey Patterson

Of the 30 MLB clubs, only the San Francisco Giants & Washington Nationals do not have a Black player on their active roster or disabled list.

Managers: Ron Washington (Rangers), Dusty Baker (Reds)

Executives: Kenny Williams (General Manager, White Sox)

On The Come Up, Top 100 Prospects that will join these ranks: Desmond Jennings (Rays), Aaron Hicks (Twins), Chris Carter & Michael Taylor (Athletics)

  1. Robert Weaver says:

    This will continue to be the case due to the economic reasons that typically go un-addressed. Blacks dominate in the NFL and NBA partly due to the low amount of resources necessary to play those two sports. Baseball requires a glove for every fielder, bats and balls, uniforms, etc. In basketball, a rim and a ball are the only pieces of equipment necessary to play. And in many cases, a rim isn’t required as the crate has been a hood staple for years. We often hone our skills in football sans pads or cleats prior to these items being provided to us by JFL and high-school football. Then theres the geography necessary to play baseball. Land is a premium that we often don’t have ownership of or access to. Both football and basketball playing areas can fit inside the baseball diamond with space to spare; a basketball court several times over. Most blacks being raised in inner cities and often in overcrowded areas, where space is rare, we are geographically ostracized from the sport. Consider the amount of donated used baseball equipment we send to underdeveloped countries and the Latino baseball products that result from free equipment meeting undeveloped land drive and hunger all in one place.

    Good read bro.

    • Thanks for the read & comments Bro. I completely agree with the struggle for minorities to engage in the game. It’s a struggle to get what is needed, but I feel like if we can at least watch the game, we can find a way to participate in it. There’s no reason that we can equip full football teams, yet not get the needed tools to play baseball, a sport where you can actually share needed equipment (gloves, bats, etc). The first step is to familiarize ourselves with it. But there is a strong, and perception based, bias against doing so. We gotta change the narrative somehow.

  2. […] 2011’s “Black Diamonds” post click here, for 2010 click […]

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