By: Taren Vaughan
Just last month in Major League Baseball, a man by the name of Jackie Robinson was celebrated. He debuted as the first African American to play baseball for a major league team, the Brooklyn Dodgers. Following Robinson’s attempt to break the color barrier in MLB, more and more men of color started to emerge in the sport. Despite the home run record that hard hitter Barry Bonds shattered, African American baseball players have continued to struggle to find true success. There is still an issue surrounding the number of minority professional baseball players and the problem seems to be getting worse.
In 2009, a significant increase was seen in the number of blacks in MLB, reaching 10.2%. Last year’s increase is now overshadowed with some teams now only having two or less African Americans on their team rosters. This would be unheard of in a sport like basketball or football. Numerous players who currently play in the league have expressed their own personal feelings about the issue. Some of them have even gone on to say how they think Jackie Robinson would feel about the current state of black athletes in baseball.
So would Jackie Robinson be displeased to see this lack of participation from African Americans? Minnesota Twins second baseman Orlando Hudson seems to think so.
In reference to Jackie Robinson’s displeasure:
“He would turn over in his grave if he saw the lack of African Americans playing ball,”
I would somewhat have to agree with Mr. Hudson on this one. Jackie Robinson, along with other baseball greats of the earlier decades, probably wouldn’t be too thrilled considering the fact that they had to endure so much just to play the sport that they loved amongst people who were a few shades lighter than they were.
Some attribute the lack of blacks in major league baseball to underlying racism.
This excuse may have worked when Jackie Robinson was playing seeing as though there was an unofficial agreement amongst baseball owners to keep blacks out of the major leagues. But now that does not apply. Everyone has an equal opportunity to play whatever sport they want to regardless of race.
It is disappointing to see the number of black athletes in professional baseball continue to drop. But until African Americans as whole get out of the mindset that the only thing we can do is shoot a jump shot, throw a football or run around a track, our lack of representation in MLB will remain low.