Skip to content

There are no U.S.-born black players on the Giants. Is that a problem?

Feb 28, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT

Mays Thompson Irvin

CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly made an observation while hanging out in the Giants’ clubhouse here in Scottsdale the other day:

I looked around the room, I realized that [Willie] Mays, and his assistant, were the only people of African-American heritage in it … Sure, there have been times when the Giants did not have a single African-American on the roster. But no representation whatsoever in big league spring training? More than 70 players, and not one African-American in the room? That realization stunned me.

It is rather stunning given how many people are in camp.  As Baggarly notes, of course, it is part of a larger trend in baseball in which black players from the United States are less and less common in the game. It’s territory that has been covered often in the past several years. And it’s attributable to any number of things, be it economics, shifts in tastes, other options available, international scouting, the draft and its rules and on and on. While some want to portray this as something sinister or as a crisis — which, it should be noted, Baggarly does not do —  my view is that it just … is.

source:  While there’s no denying the oddity of a group of 70 professional ballplayers not containing a single black player from the United States, it’s not as if this or any other clubhouse is lily white or lacks diversity. As I was walking around in it this morning I saw black skin, brown skin and white skin. There were players from North and South America, the Caribbean and Japan. I heard conversations in at least three different languages being covered by media writing in three different languages. That guy to the left is Santiago Casilla. If you didn’t know who he was and didn’t hear him speak, I’m guessing you wouldn’t say that the Giants lack diversity.

After I walked outside, I came across Bruce Bochy sitting for an interview with what appeared to be a Japanese TV station. He was asked to characterize what, apart from baseball skill, made his team a good one. Bochy’s answer was diversity. He described it in two ways: first, diversity of character, referring to guys with beards, guys with crew cuts, guys who joke, guys who don’t, and on and on.  Then he talked about having players from Venezuela, the United States, Curacao, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. He says it’s just a great mix of people.

Now, sure, he may be pushing that as a bit of spin in the days since media outlets picked up on Baggarly’s story about the lack of black players in camp. Or he may simply be doing what every other manager does in spring training and talk about what a great group of guys he has. Heck, even Bobby Valentine talked that talk last year.

But I also tend to think that Bochy is speaking a lot of truth here about where the game is at the moment. Without question, it sucks that more black players from the United States aren’t playing the game. I think Bochy would agree with my long-held sentiment that life would be 100 times better if every guy who was playing in the secondary of an SEC football team was instead patrolling an outfield because, man, it’s such a waste to see that kind of athletic wasted on such an inferior pursuit.

But that’s not where we’re at for a million reasons. And while it would be a good thing to try to change that, the fact that we’re not there doesn’t mean baseball has a diversity problem. It’s just changing. As it has always changed and likely always will.

Latest Posts
  1. And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

    Jul 22, 2014, 6:33 AM EDT

    Adam Jones AP

    Adam Jones smacked two homers. So did David Ortiz. Oh, and Lisa needs braces (dental plan), Lisa needs braces (dental plan).

  2. Shin-Soo Choo regrets playing through ankle injury

    Jul 21, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT

    Shin-Soo Choo AP AP

    The Rangers had high hopes when they signed outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to a seven-year, $130 million contract over the winter, but a lingering injury to his left ankle is a major reason why his first season with Texas has been a bust.

  3. Cliff Lee struggles in first start back from disabled list

    Jul 21, 2014, 10:29 PM EDT

    Cliff Lee AP AP

    Plenty of scouts were in attendance tonight for Cliff Lee’s first start in the majors in over two months. They likely didn’t come away impressed.

  4. Jason Vargas could rejoin the Royals’ rotation as soon as Sunday

    Jul 21, 2014, 9:58 PM EDT

    Jason Vargas AP AP

    Royals left-hander Jason Vargas underwent an appendectomy less than two weeks ago, but he could be activated from the disabled list as soon as Sunday against the Indians.

  5. VIDEO: Andrelton Simmons did something ridiculous again

    Jul 21, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT

    Andrelton Simmons

    Andrelton Simmons just isn’t fair.

  6. Josh Beckett will return from disabled list to start Tuesday

    Jul 21, 2014, 8:48 PM EDT

    Josh Beckett Getty Getty Images

    Dodgers right-hander Josh Beckett is dealing with a left hip impingement, but he made it through a bullpen session Saturday with no issues and has been cleared to return Tuesday.

  7. Dodgers get good news on Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig

    Jul 21, 2014, 8:01 PM EDT

    dodgers logo

    X-rays on the hands of Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig came back negative.

  8. Angels sign John Buck to minor league contract

    Jul 21, 2014, 7:09 PM EDT

    John Buck Getty Getty Images

    Veteran catcher John Buck was given his release by the Mariners earlier this month, but he didn’t stay out of a job for long.

  9. Report: Tommy Milone has asked the Athletics to trade him

    Jul 21, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT

    Tommy Milone Getty Getty Images

    After a demotion to Triple-A earlier this month, Tommy Milone has asked the Athletics to trade him. He appears unlikely to get his wish.

  10. Who is the next Face of Baseball?

    Jul 21, 2014, 5:28 PM EDT

    jeter-reuiters Reuters

    Jeter has been that for so, so long. Who’s next?

  11. Rockies place Justin Morneau on the disabled list

    Jul 21, 2014, 5:10 PM EDT

    Justin Morneau Rockies AP

    Justin Morneau was finally healthy and productive again after three injury wrecked years in Minnesota, to the point that he nearly made the All-Star team as a “Final Vote” candidate and was chosen for the Home Run Derby. But now he’s hurt again.

  12. The Royals are thinking about trading for Alex Rios

    Jul 21, 2014, 5:03 PM EDT

    Alex Rios AP AP

    You could do worse. Like, say, stand pat with the Royals’ offense.

  13. Mark Teixeira out 3-4 days with strained lat muscle

    Jul 21, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT

    Mark Teixeira AP

    Yankees first baseman will be out of the lineup for at least the next 3-4 days with a strained lat muscle, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.

  14. Blue Jays designate ex-closer Sergio Santos for assignment

    Jul 21, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT

    Toronto Blue Jays' pitcher Santos reacts after giving up a run to the Boston Red Sox during the ninth inning of their MLB American League baseball game in Toronto Reuters

    Sergio Santos saved 30 games for the White Sox in 2011 and then that offseason the Blue Jays acquired him to take over as their closer, but he’s been injured and ineffective since then and today Toronto designated him for assignment.

  15. Michael Wacha’s MRI was encouraging

    Jul 21, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Michael Wacha Getty Getty Images

    He could be throwing pitches in anger in September.

  16. Kurt Suzuki’s contract extension talks with the Twins didn’t get very far

    Jul 21, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Kurt Suzuki Twins AP

    After four terrible seasons Kurt Suzuki had to settle for a one-year, $2.75 million deal this offseason, but now he’s having a career-year for the Twins and made his first All-Star team at age 30.

  17. Braves activate Evan Gattis, send Christian Bethancourt back to Triple-A

    Jul 21, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    evan gattis getty Getty Images

    Evan Gattis is off the disabled list after missing the past four weeks with a bulging disk in his back and to make room for his return the Braves demoted fill-in catcher Christian Bethancourt to Triple-A.

  18. HBT Daily: The dumbest invocation of the unwritten rules in baseball history

    Jul 21, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 2.54.10 PM AP

    Some Colby on Colby crime in Toronto on Saturday. And none of it made a lick of sense.

  19. On this day in 1988: Twins teammates brawled on a lawn

    Jul 21, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT

    gladden and lombardozzi

    Imagine a story like that happening today (and not involving Miguel Olivo).

  20. The coolest baseball poster you’ll see today

    Jul 21, 2014, 2:36 PM EDT

    Fielding Print

    The third installment in what I feel is the coolest set of baseball prints ever is now out.

Featured video

Colby-on-Colby crime in Toronto
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. H. Street (3415)
  2. C. Lee (2496)
  3. H. Ramirez (2288)
  4. M. Trout (2273)
  5. D. Price (2007)
  1. Y. Puig (2006)
  2. J. Segura (1988)
  3. B. Belt (1960)
  4. T. Tulowitzki (1923)
  5. D. Uggla (1909)