August 25, 2013
The 'Civil Rights game' needs more African American players
The Rangers and White Sox played in the "civil rights game", a great idea to remember the unique role of major league baseball in the civil rights movement.
The game had a little bit of everything, from a great tag at the plate to nice pitching. It also had some great pre-game interviews with legendary players like Frank Robinson and Hank Aaron.
The game had everything except African American players. Only one African American appeared in the game. He was Donnie Veal of Chicago who made a relief appearance.
This is really sad, especially because of the connection between baseball and civil rights. The numbers speak for themselves:
"Major League Baseball revealed some interesting data in its Player Diversity Report, released Nov. 13.
Big-league 40-man rosters were 62 percent Caucasian, 28 percent Hispanic, 8 percent African-American, and 1 percent Asian.According to MLB records, the percentage of players on 2013 Opening Day 25-man rosters who identified themselves as African-American or black was approximately 8.5, consistent with the last few years. One positive return: The first round of the 2012 draft featured seven African-American players, the most by total and percentage (7 of 31, 22.6 percent) since 1992.The Giants have no black players. The Phillies have the most with five. The Red Sox, Diamondbacks, and Orioles each have only one."
It could be that African American young men are more likely to get football and basketball scholarships. USA Today had a story about this earlier this year:
"There are only 11.7 scholarships for college baseball programs, compared to 85 in football and 13 in basketball."If you're a high school athlete coming from a single-parent home that doesn't have the money to go to college,'' Boras said, "you're going to go to the sport where you can get a full scholarship. This needs to change if we want to get the best athletes in baseball.''The dearth of African-Americans can be seen even at the high-school level, Hall of Fame executive Pat Gillick says."At the high-school level,'' Gillick told USA TODAY Sports, "the coaches get these kids in revenue-driven sports, and take them away from baseball. There's so much pressure on these kids to even play spring football."
Maybe it's about scholarships or the fact that the NBA and NFL do a great job of promoting their players. It's probably a little bit of both.
Yes it's sad to play a "civil rights game" without African American players. I hope that it changes over time.