Sunday, April 15, 2007

Why don't many blacks play baseball?


On this 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's breaking of the color barrier in baseball, only nine percent of big leaguers are blacks.

It occurs to The Rascal that too many African-American kids have dreams of playing in the National Basketball Association. They would do better to try baseball, where even relatively short or stocky players can make it if they have the abilities.

Community leaders in Rockford, which has a sizable black population (and which has rich baseball traditions dating back to the game's earliest days), would do well to promote this greatest of sports in the schools and at the neighborhood level.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good idea,Rascal. They SHOULD promote baseball among black kids.

Mr. Baseball said...

Rascal, your explanation is partially true but too simplistic. Basically, baseball is a rural game that needs a lot of space while basketball is an urban game that needs very little space. As the black migration from the south to the north took place in the 50's and 60's, the bulk of the black population became concentrated in urban centers. Basketball has also been far ahead of baseball and football in its racial integration. This has had a snowball effect. With more blacks playing basketball, it's become the sport of choice and it's a much more accessible sport in an urban area. Plus it can be played all year round in northern cities while that is not true of baseball. One other factor is the lack of baseball leadership at its highest levels. While Bart Giamatti and Fay Vincent were commissioners, baseball made a conscious attempt to attract more blacks to baseball and hired blacks in executive capacities in the commissioner's and league offices. That effort has been abandoned under Bud Selig.
On another note, love the pictures.
Keep up the good work.

UCrawford said...

Mr Baseball's points are all valid. I'll also add that in Kansas City Ewing Kaufman (former owner of the Royals) ran a baseball academy in KC in the 1970s in an attempt to lure promising athletes without baseball backgrounds to the game. The academy turned out a few players (most notably Frank White), but despite his best efforts Kaufman was never able to make it profitable enough to be self-sustaining. And if Ewing Kaufman, who was a pretty sharp businessman, couldn't find a way to make an investment he cared work I find it hard to believe that a bunch of legislators would be able to do better...at least not without wasting far more taxpayer dollars than would be worthwhile.

And what would be the point anyway? MLB is a private industry...it's not the responsibility of government or taxpayers to provide them with subsidized labor (although privately funded charities are more than welcome to try if they'd like). And if more black people want to have a career in athletics and baseball is truly a better route, they'll figure it out and find a way to make that happen. Right now they're apparently choosing basketball instead, which is their prerogative.