At times, it can be easy to be discouraged.
When we started MLBbro.com in the spring of 2021, baseball was just coming back from the pandemic. The sport was reintroducing itself to the world just as we were making our debut.
Our mission, today as it was then, is to shine a light on the Black and brown players who have made the game what it is today. It’s to tell the stories of the players right now, making their own history. And it’s to let the world know about the ones on the way.
At the start of the 2022 season, Black representation in the big leagues was at 7.2%, the lowest number since data began being tracked in 1991. Then it dropped even further this season to 6.2 percent.
All-Star Game Lacked Melanin Again
With so many players out due to injury or ineffectiveness, the All-Star game had a much different vibe. Aaron Judge, the reigning American League MVP, (Aaron Judge) didn’t play, and neither did Giancarlo Stanton, last season’s All-Star Game MVP—the perfect representations of both injury and ineffectiveness.
MLBbros went a combined 0-4 at the plate. Josiah Gray’s single scoreless inning served as the only highlight.
However, hope appears to be on the horizon.
Ten Black players represented their organizations in the Futures Games in Seattle, and the inaugural Swingman HBCU Classic was a resounding success.
Baseball leaders have put forth real grassroots effort to cultivate youth programs in communities where access has been a problem. Current and former players have made investments of money, time, and have created spaces for kids to fall in love with the game.
From 2012 to 2022, there were 56 Black players taken in the first round of the draft (17.5%). In 2022, three Black players were selected in the top five, the first time that had ever happened in MLB history.
At the MLB Draft combine held last month, 15% of all players in attendance were Black. Ten potential MLBbros were selected in the top 100 of this year’s draft. There were 50 more young athletes were seen by major league scouts at the Swingman Classic, with two of those going on to be drafted.
While the numbers seem promising, there are numerous socio-economic and racial dynamics that have diverted the pipeline of talent in the Black community away from the sport over the years—many of which are still at play.
What Does Baseball Need To Do To Increase Black Representation?
We still need greater investments at the youth, high school, and collegiate levels. Not only financially, but at developmentally as well. There needs to be a greater investment in coaches who help to create a culture that encourages participation. Baseball sits with basketball and soccer as sports that the world can share in and yet the representation at its highest levels does not reflect the diverse nations that enjoy and compete in the game.
We have to continue to water the soil, protect the seeds, see what’s been started, and continue to grow and produce for years to come. It isn’t enough to have stars. There was a time when Black players were simply part of the game. They played every position, and some were utility men just making a career for themselves.
You didn’t take notice of how few there were, simply because there were so many.
It can be that way again. And we will continue to celebrate the achievements, note the progress, and discuss the methods that will help extend what we at MLBbro.com believe is a renaissance in Black baseball.
For more coverage of Black and brown Major Leaguers, go to MLBbro.com