April 15th is a day baseball fans know very well; its Jackie Robinson day. On that date in 1947 Jackie broke the color barrier and forever changed the game we all love as we knew it. From 1947-1981 African Americans went from being 0% of the MLB up to 18.7%. Every year on that day in April we pay our respects and remember what a great man he really was. However after 1981 you can see in the chart below that it kind of balanced up and down up until 2004 and we really see the drop. Because ever since 2004 we have seen the African American population in baseball in the single digits. As of 2012 we are down to 7.2% which is the lowest since 1957, now the question everyone is asking is simple; why? Could it just be the simple fact that since expansion in scouting more scouts are finding themselves in the dominate Latin communities? Because since 1967 Latinos are been in the double digits. Could it be that just more African Americans are taught as children to play other sports such as basketball or football? Its all simply a debate; I’m just here to lay down the facts and you create your own theory, your own answer.

 

Year White African-
Americans
Latino Asian
1947 98.3% 0.9% 0.7% 0.0%
1948 98.5% 0.7% 0.7% 0.0%
1949 96.6% 1.5% 1.9% 0.0%
1950 95.3% 1.7% 3.0% 0.0%
1951 94.3% 2.9% 2.8% 0.0%
1952 94.4% 2.9% 2.7% 0.0%
1953 93.3% 3.7% 3.0% 0.0%
1954 90.7% 5.6% 3.7% 0.0%
1955 89.8% 5.2% 5.0% 0.0%
1956 88.2% 6.7% 5.1% 0.0%
1957 88.1% 6.7% 5.2% 0.0%
1958 86.7% 7.4% 5.9% 0.0%
1959 84.8% 8.8% 6.5% 0.0%
1960 82.3% 8.9% 8.9% 0.0%
1961 82.6% 9.7% 7.7% 0.0%
1962 81.9% 10.1% 8.0% 0.0%
1963 80.1% 11.7% 8.2% 0.0%
1964 79.3% 11.7% 8.9% 0.1%
1965 78.3% 12.7% 8.8% 0.1%
1966 76.9% 13.4% 9.7% 0.0%
1967 75.6% 13.6% 10.7% 0.0%
1968 73.8% 15.4% 10.8% 0.0%
1969 74.4% 14.5% 11.1% 0.0%
1970 73.7% 14.6% 11.7% 0.0%
1971 73.9% 15.5% 10.6% 0.0%
1972 72.9% 16.1% 10.9% 0.0%
1973 71.6% 17.4% 11.0% 0.0%
1974 71.1% 17.4% 11.5% 0.0%
1975 71.3% 18.5% 10.2% 0.0%
1976 70.5% 18.0% 11.5% 0.0%
1977 70.7% 17.9% 11.4% 0.0%
1978 71.3% 17.4% 11.3% 0.0%
1979 71.4% 17.9% 10.7% 0.0%
1980 71.1% 17.4% 11.6% 0.0%
1981 70.1% 18.7% 11.1% 0.0%
1982 70.4% 17.9% 11.7% 0.0%
1983 70.3% 18.0% 11.6% 0.0%
1984 69.6% 18.4% 12.0% 0.0%
1985 70.3% 18.3% 11.3% 0.0%
1986 70.0% 18.3% 11.8% 0.0%
1987 69.9% 17.7% 12.3% 0.0%
1988 68.2% 17.3% 14.5% 0.0%
1989 70.3% 16.5% 13.2% 0.0%
1990 68.6% 16.6% 14.8% 0.0%
1991 66.8% 17.0% 16.1% 0.1%
1992 67.7% 16.7% 15.6% 0.0%
1993 66.3% 16.8% 16.9% 0.0%
1994 65.0% 17.2% 17.8% 0.1%
1995 64.5% 16.1% 19.2% 0.2%
1996 63.2% 16.0% 20.4% 0.4%
1997 60.9% 15.0% 23.5% 0.5%
1998 62.0% 14.3% 22.8% 0.8%
1999 61.7% 13.6% 23.5% 1.2%
2000 61.2% 12.8% 24.7% 1.3%
2001 60.7% 12.1% 26.0% 1.2%
2002 60.8% 10.8% 26.5% 1.9%
2003 61.0% 10.4% 26.8% 1.8%
2004 60.3% 10.1% 27.7% 1.8%
2005 60.9% 9.1% 27.8% 2.3%
2006 61.3% 9.0% 27.8% 1.9%
2007 63.1% 8.5% 26.1% 2.2%
2008 62.1% 8.2% 27.3% 2.3%
2009 62.2% 7.1% 28.5% 2.1%
2010 63.0% 7.8% 27.2% 1.9%
2011 63.5% 7.9% 26.9% 1.7%
2012 63.9% 7.2% 26.9% 1.9%

 

 

What I would like to point out is the different positions that African American are playing the most, and positions that they are just completely absent from.

 

As you can see from the chart above mainly African Americans are playing in the outfield, and the catcher position is all but absent. Why is this? To be honest it may just be a coincidence, it may just be that catcher is not a sexy position to play and most kids aren’t taught to become one. I’d like to point out though that pitchers have all but stayed the same over the last 65 years.

 

pitchers however have always been a dominate white position, that’s just how its been it hasn’t changed. As fans we always here every year,” this new Cuban player” or Venezuelan, or Dominican player is the next big thing, that’s where the Latino spike has accord. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, pitchers were between 39% and 44% of the total player pool. Since 2006, pitchers have been over 50% of the pool. That could be one reason pitchers have changed throughout the years.

Pitchers and catchers now make up 14 or 15 spots on the 25 man roster, and with African Americans not really being shown in those two positions could explain a lot about the dip in population. As you can see in this graph on catchers diversity.

Now for almost 30 years African Americans made up about 40% of the outfield, but after 1999 it finally dropped under 30%

 

You can say what you want you can posses your own opinion on the fall of African Americans in baseball, these are simply the facts; and the facts show that the numbers are dropping for whatever reason it is.

This is my own personal opinion; baseball is a thinking mans game, constantly having to check on runners, or pitch counts, or always having to out guess the pitcher. Its a very tough sport to play that takes hand eye coordination, it takes speed, power and concentration. Baseball is a sport of failure, its a game where if you succeed 30% of the time you’re a hall of farmer. As kids we grow up loving the game, idolizing everything about it and the role models who play it. Also as kids we want to succeed and if we can find something that’s easier were going to gravitate towards that. I’m not saying football or basketball or even hockey is not tough all I’m saying is those sports mainly take physical abilities. Not everybody is a 6’7 small forward who also weighs 240lbs. Not everybody is a 6’4 wide receiver who runs a blazing fast 4.40 40 time. Baseball is a game of all different heights and weights and they can all succeed in their own way, like easily compare Prince Fielder to Dee Gordon; both successful in their own ways. This dip in races in baseball is one that I personally think will continue, and it will get worse; however it won’t change the way we view the game or how we play it. Race is a but a color, a family tree; if you enjoy the game of baseball if you’re taught fundamentals at an early age and enjoy it you’re going to pursue it no matter if your black, white, brown anything.

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