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HBT Daily: Jackie Robinson Day and the decline of U.S.-born blacks in baseball

Apr 15, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT


Julie Donaldson and I talk about Jackie Robinson’s legacy and the rather difficult topic of the decline of U.S.-born blacks playing major league baseball.

As we’ve noted in the past, It’s not an easy problem to diagnose, let alone to solve. Indeed, people can’t even agree on how many blacks played the game at one period of time vs. another. That said, Major League Baseball seems to be doing all it can do to address the matter, even if its power in this regard is limited.

  1. skids003 - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    What can be done about it? Outlaw basketball. It’s more exciting.

    • tbird05 - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:28 PM

      I don’t know, basketball and football are doing a pretty good job of keeping chumps out of baseball. They serve a purpose.

    • rhannah78 - Apr 15, 2014 at 4:08 PM

      Basketball more exciting? Yeah, nothing more exciting than the last 2 minutes of a close game taking 2 hours as it becomes a free throw shooting contest and a time out free for all!


    • dcarroll73 - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:20 PM

      Basketball? More exciting than what? Watching oil-based paint dry?

  2. tbird05 - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    I bet it is because of racism…

  3. jeffbbf - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    there are fewer whites in MLB than there were 40 years ago, too. At least as a percentage of the whole.

    • skids003 - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:28 PM

      True, but that doesn’t fit CC’s agenda.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Apr 15, 2014 at 4:02 PM

        Or maybe you could watch the video and see what I actually think about the matter.

      • Wesley Clark - Apr 15, 2014 at 4:29 PM

        Let’s get crazy. It’s much easier to shoot off at the mouth and just spout pre-conceived notions than to actually watch the video and then post something constructive.

      • ripwarrior - Apr 15, 2014 at 5:48 PM

        Craig talks a big game yet he lives in an area that is 90% white.

      • dcarroll73 - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:28 PM

        If Craig lives in an area that is 90% white, it is an integrated neighborhood in these United States. De facto segregation is still very much a fact. I have been lucky enough that my two houses over the last 30 years were in such neighborhoods, and that combined with a very diverse daycare resulted in my daughter growing up a lot more tolerant and comfortable in a diverse world. It is easy to throw out snarky comments, but wake up and smell the coffee (contrary to the gospel according to St. Ronald it may not be Morning in America.)

  4. spursareold - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    It’s not rocket science. The Latin Americans just want it more and are more interested. Someone else mentioned basketball. For that, all you need is some guys and a ball. There are plenty of courts in every city. For baseball, you need bats, gloves, and catching equipment, plus someone to umpire.

    There’s no consipracy. Black kids just want to hoop these days.

    • hansob - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:40 PM

      We dared go without a catcher OR umpire back in my day (the late 80s). Ghost runners were used liberally.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:50 PM

        No kidding. For basketball we had to have a hoop or elevated spot to hit and a lot of pavement. To play kickball or baseball — the yard next door, a ball, a handful of gloves. That was about it.

      • grumpyoleman - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:53 PM

        And we shared gloves. Wore a left handed one if you had to.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 15, 2014 at 4:20 PM

        I’m pretty sure some of us went without a glove. The stump was second. Someone’s jacket or book bag was 3rd. The big rock was first and the other team kept moving it. We drew a square in the dirt for home. Anything that went in Jim & Betty’s yard was a home run.

    • jrob23 - Apr 15, 2014 at 4:19 PM

      and to keep it real. Their advantages as athletes i.e. speed and jumping ability play better in basketball.

      • dcarroll73 - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:32 PM

        yeah, because speed and jumping ability are not of much use playing outfield or running the bases?

  5. irishmanknowsall - Apr 15, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    Children of all colors living n poverty and no open spaces need the land and the basic equipment to play and learn to love the game and develop all the necessary skills. A blacktop with a few hoops is a lot cheaper for cities to provide space and equipment for, than sprawling fields of green that need to be planted ad maintained: grass, watering, mowing, fences, lights, seating, dugouts, bases, etc., the list is a long one. On a basketball court they don’t even have to provide a net. How many pools are in inner cities, indoor or outdoor, for children of poverty to polish swimming and diving skills? Same reasons: cost and available space. Sure, kids can play stickball with parked cars and fire hydrants, but somehow I don’t think it is the same thing. BTW, 30 MLB teams, and not one black general manager. I don’t believe for a second in what Al Campanis and Jimmy the Greek said about black athletes, but one look down the GM roster in MLB and one has to wonder.

    • Reflex - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:05 AM

      What does one have to wonder? I suppose its easy to miss former GM Ken Williams of the White Sox now that he was promoted to executive vice president. And yeah, your right, its tough for kids in the city to play baseball. Its not at all as nice as the Dominican with the acres of inner city fields pristinely set up for kids to practice. In the US they have to revert to stickball and imaginary bases….

      Stereotype much?

  6. percychuggs - Apr 15, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    This isn’t actually a problem. If young black kids don’t want to play baseball, why should we force them? Let them do whatever they want to do. It’s not up to society to dictate that our sports need to have an equal mix of all races.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:06 AM

      No, society should of course not dictate, but if some kids only have one choice because there is no suitable baseball field nor equipment available, that would seem an imperfect situation. Providing an opportunity to try a variety of activities sounds better to me. I favor equality of opportunity, but no one should expect any particular results.

  7. nolasoxfan2012 - Apr 15, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    I never understand why anyone worries about the percentage of whatever race is playing in the MLB/NFL/NBA or whatever. For every successful professional player, there are dozens and dozens of players who don’t make it. Trying to be a professional athlete is almost certainly going to result in failure. If only people worried as much about more realistic career choices, like being a teacher, lawyer, doctor, business person, etc.

  8. thetxhammer - Apr 15, 2014 at 5:39 PM

    Nolasoxfan nailed it, thank you.

    Why don’t we become more concerned about the ridiculous attention on sports and focus on all kids regardless of color succeeding in school and moving on to realistic professions instead of pushing them to succeed in sports where it’s nearly impossible to stick and actually make a living.

    Then all of those who don’t make it professionally end up where?

    Our society, man.

  9. gloccamorra - Apr 15, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    I used to blame Michael Jordan for the drop in American-born blacks in baseball, but it’s something more insidious: money!

    The NBA’s minor leagues (colleges) churn out prospects and the NCAA gives them conference titles and March Madness to let the best shine, and the NBA bestows big contracts and roster spots on 22 year olds.

    The NFL’s minor leagues (colleges) churn out prospects and the NCAA gives them conference titles and bowl games to let the best shine, and the NFL bestows big $ contracts and roster spots on 22 year olds.

    MLB drafts high school and college players, and gives them signing bonuses that cover tuition debt, but they still have to take bus rides in the minors for 3-5 years before getting a shot, with no guarantees. If they make irt to the show, they have minimal leverage for 2-3 years and suppressed arbitration pay for another 3-4 years before they can get the big money their basketball and football peers got at 22.

    The combination of big bucks and instant gratification is intoxicating, and neither exists where the latin players grew up. The upside for those who choose baseball is that even a journeyman (or left handed pitcher) can have a long career extending to 40 and over, while only the best of the NBA play into their 30s, and most NFL players are washed up years before that, with some nearly crippled if they’d played past 30.

    You MIGHT be able to convince a few of the young that baseball is the better deal long-term, but the siren song of instant gratification, cribs, and cars is too strong for most to resist.

  10. 1776blues - Apr 15, 2014 at 10:14 PM

    I think you can say this about all US born athletes as pro sports is following the same model that other businesses whether it be outsourcing or insourcing. But you can search for who is responsible for the mass immigration policies legal or illegal. Globalism has come to sports and it hurts all American athletes.

    read this story which involves two players both from the states and how colleges have an agenda. It may surprise you or it may not.

  11. dcarroll73 - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:47 PM

    I don’t mean to ignite a firestorm (but I probably will anyway.) As impressive and admirable as Jackie Robinson’s accomplishments were, occasionally I am reminded that he was a flawed human being as we all are. Last night PBS had on a show about Muhammad Ali (independent lens?) which included a clip that I had seen years ago but had forgotten. In the section dealing with Ali’s draft resistence (certainly not “draft dodging” as he was slurred at the time,) the media went out to get quotes painting Ali in a bad light, and one of them was Jackie Robinson criticizing him for not serving. Now whether one likes Ali’s Muslim beliefs or not, this was the basis for his refusal, and while I understand that Jackie was from a prior generation which saw things differently, to me Jackie sounded a like more like Archie Bunker than I might have hoped. We need to remember things like this whenever we start deifying any mere mortal.

  12. stehill51 - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:16 AM

    “what can be done”?????

    Where’s your article about recruiting more whites into basketball u phuckin racist.

    • nbjays - Apr 16, 2014 at 7:46 AM

      Do you work hard at being this much of a dick, or is it natural talent?

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