List of first black Major League Baseball players

Player Team League Date
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

Johnny Wright was the second black player signed to a contract by the Dodgers, and was on the roster of the 1946 Montreal Royals at the same time as Jackie.

Seventy years after Jackie’s debut, the numbers remain low

Major League Baseball will celebrate its annual Jackie Robinson Day from New York’s Yankee Stadium to Safeco Field in Seattle on Saturday. The celebration includes the unveiling of a statue in Robinson’s honor at Dodger Stadium, and the baseball team at UCLA, Robinson’s alma mater, will wear cleats with newspaper headlines and Robinson’s No. 42 on them.Baseball has become a living and breathing component of culture in the Caribbean and Latin America, which is severely lacking here in the US. After examining the upbringing of JBJ, Betts, Young, and Price, all four players were raised in the seventeen warmest states –– all of which are located in the southern regions within the country. Black American baseball players seem to be trickling out of the warmer areas where the game can be played more frequently. This closely mirrors the conditions that are present in our transcontinental neighbors. With this being so, what must be done moving forward?

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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.

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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

Orioles (2): Mychal Givens, Adam Jones

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

Rockies: None

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

Padres: None

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)

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