There are no U.S.-born Black players in the World Series. Why that matters.


PHILADELPHIA – The World Series finally moved on Tuesday night to a city that hasn’t hosted it in 13 years, and there’s a sense of freshness around the Philadelphia Phillies, a dynamic for the sport. The Houston Astros are up there with what the crew (in any way) has done. Bryce Harper, who has never been here before the Phillies; Rhys Hopkins JT Realmuto; Zack Wheeler Aaron Nola boasts stellar ensembles. It’s really encouraging.

See a list of notable fillies. The new team here highlights an old problem: Maybe baseball is too American. White also increased. That’s not all bad news, and we’ll explore the reasons and — more importantly — possible solutions. But when there are two World Series teams that boast not a single American-born black player. It is amazing.

“Attracting so many top athletes to play our great game and to say we’re challenged in our game is an understatement,” Tony Clark, head of the MLB Players Association and a 15-year league player, said earlier. Season.

Clark knows because he didn’t choose baseball. Baseball chose him. He played basketball at the University of Arizona, but his hardwood career was slowed when he suffered a back injury as a freshman. “I even joked that I was a basketball player in a baseball uniform,” Clark said years ago, even after the Detroit Tigers took him with the second pick in the 1990 MLB draft.

This is not unusual for Clark. When Tim Anderson was growing up in Tuscaloosa, Ala., he had a choice of what to watch and who to worship.

“I like Ken Griffey Jr.,” the Chicago White Sox shortstop said at the All-Star Game this summer. “Other than that, I don’t look at it at all. There were guys I looked up to, but I was just a basketball guy. I’m not selling baseball.”

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Rhys Hoskins, leader of the tumultuous clubhouse, is ‘Philly’

There is one thing. Black children born in America cannot see the same face as those who contributed to this World Series on the field. It was the first since the 1950s. This issue has gained new attention this fall.

But even if the New York Yankees beat the Astros and the San Diego Padres beat the Phillies in the league championship series, the difference would be nominal. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton will give the Blacks some star power in the World Series; Both Yankees sluggers are of mixed race. Josh Bell is a prominent black face on the Padres’ roster.

that’s it. Some of the American-born black players in the playoffs were Mookie Betts of the Dodgers; Michael Harris II of Atlanta; Cleveland’s Triston McKenzie joined. They are non-brushed dots of color. bench or pen; There are no similar players who fill in the rotation or infield. NBA and NFL teams have American-born black players up and down the roster. MLB teams don’t.

What’s lost is the chance to see kids grow up like they did with the kids for the betterment of a big league team. The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports has charted racial inclusion in baseball and other sports since 1991. In its annual report, 7.2 percent of players on this year’s Opening Day roster were black, the lowest percentage in the report’s history.

So this is not a 2022 issue. It’s a decades-old problem. It’s culture. It’s business. It is logistics.

Major League Baseball has sought various ways to make its rosters more similar to the populations of the cities they represent. In 1989, the league established the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program, which included in its mission statement the goal of “promoting the greater participation of youth of diverse backgrounds in the mainstream of the game.”

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That’s a big goal. Actually, it doesn’t work. So why hang on to a well-intentioned strategy that doesn’t produce results? It’s time for MLB to have a comprehensive program not only in its major league markets, but also in the big league cities.

Living to do something different in Washington, DC; breathing Still under development. It might work. If that’s the case, you should do the same. The Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy launched its YBA Play program for baseball players ages 6 and under in 2016, two years after opening a facility east of the Anacostia River.

From 2021, Ken Griffey Jr. is still trying to make baseball cool.

“Fun for the kids; attractive By providing the opportunity to play baseball in a fast-paced environment; prior access to the game; We found that first exposure to games was not necessary for children to enjoy playing games. said Tal Alter, CEO of Washington Nationals Philanthropies. “When you get kids who love the experience — no matter who they are or where they’re from — they stick with it.”

The YBA Play program did not produce any major league teams. But the evidence of his love for the game grows as he trains with drills that don’t feel like the game of baseball — bursts of speed rather than slow slogs. The academy’s highly competitive next-level program – Hustle – involves more than 100 players each year. support to them; Equipment and training are provided free of charge — eliminating financial and logistical challenges and preventing many children from the community from participating in travel baseball.

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The first group of kids in the Hustle program are nearing the end of their high school careers—many have played varsity baseball, and some are on track to play in college.

“I think it’s fair to say that representation is important and our kids are totally focused on who is in the big leagues,” Alter said. “I hear what they’re talking about all the time.”

There are people working on these issues at all levels of MLB offices, and Commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday addressed the clubs’ failure to put different faces in the front office and manager’s jobs. The league has a list of programs and events — the Hank Aaron Invitational; Martin Luther King Jr. Dream Series on the weekend of diversity development camps; and so on — aimed at providing more opportunities and identifying more promising league players. Baseball considered it a victory when four of the top five picks in July’s draft were American-born black players, and all four had participated in some league-sponsored development program.

Still, Astros Manager Dusty Baker is the most prominent black character—really Only American-born black character — in this series. And he absorbed the idea that there were no black players: “I don’t think that’s something baseball should really be proud of. It doesn’t look good.”

It doesn’t look bad. not good What was once a national festival is no longer a nation. The World Series back in Philadelphia has a fresh feel to it. Hopefully statistics such as those competing here will become a thing of the past. We need to expose the sport of baseball to athletes from all walks of life and communities and find ways to reach them. Select A side beyond baseball. Without it, something is lost.


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