Major League Baseball (MLB) has long been considered America's pastime. However, recent studies have shown a concerning trend: the percentage of Black players in the league is at its lowest since 1955.
A Look at the Numbers
According to research conducted by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES), only 6.2% of players on MLB's opening day rosters in 2023 were Black. This figure represents a decrease from the previous year, where the percentage stood at 7.2%.
In contrast, the most common ethnicity among baseball players is White, making up 72.8% of all players. Other ethnicities such as Hispanic or Latino players represent 7.5%, while Black or African American players account for 8.9%.
The decline in Black representation in MLB is not a recent phenomenon. In 1991, Black players made up 18% of all MLB rosters. Fast forward to 2022, and this figure had dropped to a mere 7.2%.
The Current Scenario
In 2023, out of the 945 players on Major League Opening Day rosters and inactive lists, 40.34% came from diverse backgrounds, including Black, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native American. However, Black players made up just 6.2% (59) of that population.
Efforts to Increase Diversity
Despite these disheartening statistics, MLB has implemented numerous programs to increase Black youth participation in the sport. These initiatives include the MLB Youth Academy, DREAM Series, and the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program.
Moreover, MLB has pledged $150 million in a 10-year partnership with the Players Alliance, a nonprofit organization of current and former players working to increase Black involvement at all levels of the sport.
The Future of Black Representation in MLB
While these efforts are commendable, reversing the declining trend of Black representation in MLB may take time. Richard Lapchick, TIDES director and lead study author, believes that the trend might continue for another year or two until the impact of these programs becomes evident.