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 Perhaps it is outdated, or not up to the accustomed speed of this generation’s overall lifestyle, but by any measure, all levels of focus on the game (at every level) is at an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.
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
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
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.
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
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)