Why the huge decline in the percentage of black Major League Baseball players?

LA to Irv P., a retired baseball coach:

This is something. Blacks were 17 percent of Major League players in 1997, and only eight percent today. It could be the increase of Hispanics driving out the blacks (due to training schools the clubs have set up in Latin American countries), or other factors.

Irv replies:

The article touches on the reasons for this decline. Fathers not bringing up their kids. Black kids thinking it is a “white sport.” Basketball and football bringing much more adulation for the players in the developmental phases (you toil in anonymity in baseball all your life, unless you get to the big leagues, unlike the gigantic market for college basketball and football). I would downplay the economic factors, although that is part of the “daddy” problem. The Hispanics are filling a vacuum created by the decrease in blacks. They also come from cultures which highly value baseball skills. I don’t think they are driving out blacks. They are really taking the potential jobs of many deserving white ball players.

Baseball requires more self discipline than the other sports. You have to have the ability to concentrate for longer periods. You have to possess the mental skills to bounce back from personal failure quickly. Most ballplayers are not specialists. Their game has to include a wider variety of abilities than the other games. It is a game that is less suited to the “style” of black culture. Black culture is more of an “in your face” kind of thing. They are very tactile and aggressive. Baseball is not suited to that.

I have found that black people I have known who are connected to baseball in some way, come from more stable families and are more assimilated to American culture. They are more likely to feel comfortable around white people, and less uncomfortable with themselves.

September 3

RFI writes:

The decline of blacks in Major League Baseball has been overstated because it isn’t weighted against the decline in the percentage of Americans in the Major Leagues but against the general population of Major League Baseball. For purposes of the study that gets put out every year, players like David Ortiz and Valdimir Guerrero aren’t considered black, but Hispanic. Google image search either. It’s only African Americans that count in the study.

Blacks are slightly underrepresented as a percentage of American Major Leaguers. The decline is mostly due to the rising percentage of foreign born players since the 1980s. Most come from Latin America but there are now Dutch, Japanese, South Korean, and Taiwanese players as well.

Here and here are links breaking the numbers down from the 2007 numbers of the same study you referenced:

Chuck Ross writes:

From my cursory knowledge of the evolution of baseball over the past decade, it seems that teams have moved away from drafting American players out of high school in favor of drafting players with at least some college experience. This shift would naturally hinder black players. A parallel could occur in NBA basketball—I’m not sure if there has been a meaningful demographic shift i.e. the influx of European players—after the league instituted a policy of not drafting kids right out of high school after the (I think) 2004-2005 season.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 02, 2011 04:21 PM | Send

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