“Nearly 60 years after Jackie Robinson burst through baseball’s color barrier, U.S.-born African-American players are virtually vanishing from the game. Three decades after blacks made up nearly 30 percent of major league rosters, they now make up about 8 percent — less than half the 17.25 percent of 1959, the first year every team was integrated…. Meanwhile, the NCAA reports that blacks make up only 6 percent of Division I baseball rosters. Most telling, historically black schools such as Mississippi Valley State, Florida A&M and much of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference have rosters approaching 50 percent white.”

Harry Edwards, the sociologist and outspoken voice on race in sports, sees an abandonment by baseball of African-American youth, who are often trapped by cultural and economic conditions in poverty-stricken inner cities. Edwards points to a preference for baseball to cultivate talent in Latin America. “‘It is cheaper, it is more efficient and there (are) less social and cultural encumbrances,’ said Edwards, who as director of parks and recreation in Oakland was horrified by the crippling influence of gangs. ‘They don’t have to send scouts into African-American communities, which still today are substantially segregated and increasingly violent.'”

Among other forces mentioned by Gregorian that are working against African-American youth participation in baseball are “… the decay and neglect of inner-city facilities and, more recently, the coming of an elite age of sports specialization, travel leagues, camps and clinics.”


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