List of first black Major League Baseball players
|Jackie Robinson †||Brooklyn Dodgers||NL||April 15, 1947|
|Larry Doby †||Cleveland Indians||AL||July 5, 1947|
|Hank Thompson||St. Louis Browns||AL||July 17, 1947|
|Willard Brown †||St. Louis Browns||AL||July 19, 1947|
|Dan Bankhead||Brooklyn Dodgers||NL||August 26, 1947|
|Roy Campanella †||Brooklyn Dodgers||NL||April 20, 1948|
|Satchel Paige †||Cleveland Indians||AL||July 9, 1948|
|Minnie Miñoso||Cleveland Indians||AL||April 19, 1949|
|Don Newcombe||Brooklyn Dodgers||NL||May 20, 1949|
|Monte Irvin †||New York Giants||NL||July 8, 1949|
|Luke Easter||Cleveland Indians||AL||August 11, 1949|
|Sam Jethroe||Boston Braves||NL||April 18, 1950|
|Luis Márquez||Boston Braves||NL||April 18, 1951|
|Ray Noble||New York Giants||NL|
|Artie Wilson||New York Giants||NL|
|Harry Simpson||Cleveland Indians||AL||April 21, 1951|
|Willie Mays †||New York Giants||NL||May 25, 1951|
|Sam Hairston||Chicago White Sox||AL||July 21, 1951|
|Bob Boyd||Chicago White Sox||AL||September 8, 1951|
|Sam Jones||Cleveland Indians||AL||September 22, 1951|
Seventy years after Jackie’s debut, the numbers remain low
These numbers are jarring, and it’s startling that in almost 30 years, the proportion of black American players has dropped by nearly ten percentage points. According to a study released by the Society For American Baseball Research (SABR) in 1986, MLB was 18.3 percent African American. This same study indicated that the percentages of Latin Americans within the league began exponentially increasing at the same time as black American numbers steadily were declining. But does this correlation between the two deviations suggest a causation? In theory, this might be more than a fortuity.
It is clear that black Americans need more support from the league, and the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) initiative, established in 1989, was a substantial first step. But, after properly investigating the issue at hand, emerging players deserve a secure mentor rather than the miracle mentioned by McCutchen. These mentorships shouldn’t resemble the questionable conditions that are practiced by the buscones, but should provide black Americans with resources that currently are evasive.
In the African American community, sports icons wield immense power. For example,LeBron James can stick his logo on the ugliest shoes in the market and still sell $340 million worth of merchandise. Michael Jordan, who retired in 2003, has made more in retirement than he ever did in his playing days; $1.24 billion. Peyton Manning, like MJ, hasmade millions off the field. Baseball players, for the most part, don’t have the same nationwide appeal.
This is due in large part to the poor job MLB has done with their marketing strategies. While baseball has the most lucrative contracts in professional sports, they leave the promotion of their superstars to the companies representing them. The NBA has done a phenomenal job of running commercials over recent years, starting with it’s “NBA BIG” initiative, on to the modern day “This is Why We Play” campaign.
Baseball is lacking in this department, an area highly effective in the recruitment of young athletes. Increasingly, the parents of today are millennials who grew up infatuated with television. With the ad campaigns of the NFL and NBA overshadowing those of the MLB, it would make sense interest in the sport would diminish among American youths.
Baseball’s superstars themselves are indirectly a part of the declining numbers of African American baseball players. In the league’s history, MLB’s superstars have been largely white, and it is easy to see why. The majority of players are white. When there are more of one race playing a sport, the talent level of that race should, in turn, be higher. That is because there are more players to choose from. To put it simply, there aren’t any black baseball superstars. There are no perennial African American MVP candidates (outside of Mookie Betts, Adam Jones, and an aging Andrew McCutchen). With the African American culture being one that draws from the greatness of one another, the lack of black superstars means a lack of interest from the youths that would potentially look at them as role models.
Bradford Richardson makes a great point in his article for the Washington Post about the decline of black ball players. Baseball is a sport that is typically passed on from a father to a son. In 2012, 72.6 percent of black children were born out of wedlock. With the glaring lack of fatherhood in a large percentage of the Caucasian and African American community, the tradition of sharing baseball, from a father to a son, is dwindling. Sadly, the MLB does not have the capability to increase the relations between fathers and children in both the Caucasian and Black community.
Robinson’s appearance on Opening Day with the Brooklyn Dodgers 70 years ago ended 60 years of baseball segregation, as he became the first African-American to play Major League Baseball in the modern era.
In 1956, Robinson’s final year in the majors, African-Americans constituted 6.7 percent of major league rosters. Today that number is 7.7 percent, according to MLB.
Here is a list of African-American players on 2017 Opening Day rosters, including the disabled list, as provided by MLB.
A team-by-team list of African-American MLB players
Diamondbacks (1): Taijuan Walker
Braves (2): Matt Kemp, Brandon Phillips
Red Sox (3): Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Chris Young
Cubs (3): Addison Russell, Carl Edwards Jr., Jason Heyward
White Sox (2): Jacob May, Tim Anderson
Reds (2): Amir Garrett, Billy Hamilton
Indians (2): Michael Brantley, Austin Jackson
Tigers (1): Justin Upton
Astros (2): Tony Sipp, George Springer
Royals (2): Lorenzo Cain, Terrance Gore
Angels (2): Cameron Maybin, Ben Revere
Dodgers (1): Andrew Toles
Marlins (2): Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon
Brewers (2): Keon Broxton, Eric Thames
Twins (1): Byron Buxton
Mets (1): Curtis Granderson
Yankees (4): Chris Carter, CC Sabathia, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge
Athletics (4): Jharel Cotton, Khris Davis, Rajai Davis, Marcus Semien
Phillies (2): Aaron Altherr, Howie Kendrick
Pirates (3): Andrew McCutchen, Josh Bell, Josh Harrison
Giants (1): Denard Span
Mariners (1): Jarrod Dyson
Cardinals (1): Dexter Fowler
Rays (4): Mallex Smith, Tim Beckham, Rickie Weeks, Chris Archer
Rangers (3): Delino DeShields, Matt Bush, Jeremy Jeffress
Blue Jays (3): Devon Travis, Marcus Stroman, Russell Martin
Nationals (1): Michael Taylor
Disabled list: Micah Johnson (Braves), Ian Desmond (Rockies), David Price (Red Sox), Tyson Ross (Rangers), Dalton Pompey (Blue Jays)