“They’re Not Us” Baseball’s Diversity Issue
Baseball is an international game, a truly international game. But the simple fact is that there is a lack of Black players in Major League Baseball. Angels outfielder Torii Hunter spoke to that fact and now the Major League Baseball community is in an uproar. Everyone from bloggers to Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has weighed in on Hunter’s candid comments.
“People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they’re African American. They’re not us. They’re impostors… Even people I know come up and say, ‘Hey, what color is Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a Black player?’ I say, ‘Come on, he’s Dominican. He’s not Black.’ “
Hunter was taking part in a roundtable on improving baseball. The topic? Diversity and the declining numbers of Black players in Major League Baseball. Sure, he could have left out the part about them being impostors as it implies that Latin American players are attempting to deceive the public. They’re not. But the simple fact is the public may misconceive the dark faces as Black faces.
Great, we’ve identified the issue. The number of Black players in Major League Baseball is declining. The real issue starts well before players take the plate in the majors. The popularity of the sport, no matter how much I love it, is declining with Black children.
So more than a discussion about the numbers of Blacks in the Big Leagues, there should be a discussion on keeping baseball alive with Black youth. They are the carriers of Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige’s torch. So while there has been so much effort putting facilities in Latin America and the Caribbean, where is the effort in putting fields in urban communities here in America?
Baseball is a sport of cultivation. Every player in the Major Leagues has been groomed and brought up through a very specific farm system. So when you get to the top and see that one segment of your population is underrepresented, don’t question it and don’t blame the speaker of the truth.