Orlando Hudson on African-Americans in Baseball

Orlando Hudson has been outspoken — at times, controversial — when it comes to African-Americans in baseball. The San Diego Padres second baseman cares deeply about the subject, and his knowledge of the game spans from the Negro Leagues to the present day. Perhaps most important to him, though, is the game’s future.

The numbers are sadly staggering: In 1975, African-Americans populated more than a quarter of major-league rosters. By 1996, when Hudson signed his first professional contract, the figure was 17%. Today, only 8.5% of this season’s Opening Day big-leaguers were African-American. The downward trend is one that Hudson would like to see reversed.

The four-time Gold Glove winner addressed the subject when the Padres visited Fenway Park earlier this summer.


Hudson, on the man who preceded Jackie Robinson: “Fleetwood Walker was the first African-American to play in the big leagues. People say that Jackie broke the barrier, but Fleetwood broke in back in [1884]. He had a couple of years in before they said, ‘We don’t want blacks in baseball.’ He was a light-skinned brother. He was the first one and then — 60 years later — Jackie came along, in 1947. It was like, ‘OK, I’m here to stay.’ He played nine or 10 years in the big leagues. Then it was [Don] Newcombe and [Larry] Doby, and so forth.

On the players who followed Robinson: “They aren’t [as well known] because they were there at the same time as Jackie. Here’s a prime example: At one time you had Jeter, A-Rod, Tejada, Nomar and Vizquel. Wow. All right, out of that bunch you have four who are still playing. Nomar is out, so nobody talks about him anymore. Everyone forgets that Nomar was one of the best in the game. They mostly talk about Jeter and A-Rod. That’s why I think that Doby and those guys aren‘t talked about. Jackie got all the limelight. Branch Rickey was like, ’OK, this is the first guy, right here, Jackie Robinson.’ People just gravitated to him.”

On the integration of Latin players: “Jackie opened the door for not just African-Americans, but to Latin players, which, to me, are of African descent. True that. When slavery broke up and some white folks went to the islands, and whatever… they spoke Spanish. They had white folks and they had Africans there. Nobody came to Africa speaking Spanish, but even though they didn’t learn our language, they’re still our people. Jackie opened the door for them, for Latins and also for Asians. It’s a wide-open game for everybody. He didn’t just do it for African-Americans. Just like Martin Luther King. It was equality. This is a game for all of us.”

On why it took so long to have an African-American manager in the big leagues: “They wouldn’t let [us] manage in the big leagues, but [we] could have managed in the big leagues. Why did it take so long? If I said what I wanted to say, I’d be out of baseball. I wouldn’t be able to go to no stadium anymore.”

On independent leagues and the Negro Leagues: “Basically, that’s what the independent leagues look like right now. They look like the old Negro Leagues. A lot of independent teams have a lot of African-American guys trying to back into the minor leagues, to try to get to the big leagues, any way they can.

“Why [are they playing in independent leagues]? That‘s a question you‘re going to have to ask me after I retire.”

On the decline of blacks in baseball: “The numbers are in steady decline. I rehabbed for a few days this year in A-ball and I saw a few African-American brothers playing the game. That was good. A couple of first-rounders, a couple of second-rounders. It’s good to see them down there and I hope they stick with it. But do you know what, man? Basketball and football do so many other things, and you can get to the league quicker. And it’s not such a grind.

“When I’m back home, African-Americans say, “It’s a white man’s game. It ain’t made for us, man.’ At the same time, they forget that blacks dominated this game, way before their parent‘s time. During their great grandparent’s time. Blacks dominated the game. If they really knew that white folks back then said that Babe Ruth is the white Josh Gibson, and that black folks said that Josh Gibson is the black Babe Ruth, they’d be like, ‘Dang. Seriously?’ Yeah, like seriously. Babe Ruth had a lot of respect for Josh Gibson, just like Josh Gibson had a lot of respect for Babe Ruth.

“You have to remember, when the old Negro League all-stars played against the white all-stars, the Negro Leagues won 75 percent of the time. And it brought tons of money to the game, but they stopped it. The guy who took over as commissioner [Kenesaw Mountain Landis] was very racist. He said ‘no,’ because the African-Americans were beating them.

“You’d hear older white guys [saying], ‘Damn,’ and bragging on how good Satchel Paige was. They’d say, ‘That’s the toughest pitcher — and the best pitcher— I’ve ever seen.’ Those guys paved the way for us, but now African-Americans don’t really play. Damn.”

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David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from February 2006-March 2011 and is a regular contributor to several publications. His first book, Interviews from Red Sox Nation, was published by Maple Street Press in 2006. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA

110 Responses to “Orlando Hudson on African-Americans in Baseball”

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  1. Cuban Pete says:

    I think the decline in Black baseball players is due to more than anything else to the rise of Latino players. It isn’t a racist thing – it’s a talent and motivation thing.

    There are more talented baseball players coming from DR, PR, Cuba, and Venezuela than are coming from the US because of the opportunity to escape poverty through baseball. The talented US athletes, black or white, are gravitating toward sports that highlight the athleticism more because they can be millionaires regardless what sport they choose; basketball and football require much better athleticism than does baseball, and the riches can come quicker.

    It’s also about access: Baseball also requires more players and equipment than basketball or football; likewise hockey. Soccer is not an option for riches here as it is everywhere else in the world.

    If you combine access and athletic motivation look at the influx in pro sports over the last two decades of Asian players. There are athletes there who are finding success outside of their country in baseball and basketball. Forget football for now; it is an American culture thing. Only in the US is there such a passion for that sport. Europeans look it more as an intersting offshoot of rugby than an actual sport to play for fun or profit.

    The next big country in producing baseball players? Why not Brazil? The athletic talent in that country is off the charts as the multiple soccer championships tell you; the opportunity to escape poverty through sport is already in the culture. All that is needed is some smart team willing to invest a decade in development and education and the next batch of superstars in baseball could be one-name types: Pele, Ronaldo, et al.

    You may now return to your regularly scheduled posting.

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    • RC says:

      Baseball requires more players and equipment than football, a sport that is 11 on 11, and requires significant pads?

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      • Joe says:

        Football is a great deal more expensive than baseball to build a team around, that’s for sure. Even in high school.

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      • Yeah. Each player wears the same pads. Many different mitts, bats, and batting gloves, etc. are there before factoring in catcher’s gear?

        And the number of players comment can be thought of in a manner of all the players that are in college, the minors, indy leagues, and the pros. With football, it’s really just college and the pros, and the UFL if you choose to include it.

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      • Garrett says:

        Yeah, the sum total of baseball gear pales in comparison to football gear. The player comment in your interpretation is pretty absurd as well.

        What would make sense is pretending he’s Eurotarded and talking about soccer.

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      • Guess you aren’t here to make any friends, are you Dwight?

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      • deadpool says:

        I think the point was directed more at the pick up style game than a real league. If you want to gather neighborhood kids together to play baseball they each have to have a mitt and there needs to be at least on bat and ball.

        To start a pick up football game you just need the ball.

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      • Very well said, deadpool.

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        To play a game of pickup baseball, you also need a field. Kids play football pretty much anywhere. And there are basketball courts all over the place.

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    • Garrett says:

      I like the assumption of across the board “athletic talent”. Apparently genetic makeup plays no part in athletic talent. I will alert all Asian track and field teams that their dream of WR 100m times is still alive without mass genocide.

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      Related to this, I’ve long wanted to see the change in the number of African-American MLBers as a percentage of American players because I think the statistics commonly cited are misleading. Sure, the number of African-Americans has steeply declined, but so has the number of Americans.

      Not that I don’t think it’s a legitimate problem, I’d just like to see more accurate statistics.

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      • Llewdor says:

        Exactly this.

        Blacks make up roughly 12% of the American population, so that 17% number from 1996 reflects a massive over-representation, especially since not all of the players are even Americans.

        If African-Americans now accounted for 17% of all MLB players, would anyone be concerned about the decline of the non-black American player?

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    • Garrett says:

      Why is it a problem? Using generalizations to identify racism is retarded. If there are less qualified African Americans, then so be it. Having more African Americans at the expense of a more talented black Latino player would be ridiculous.

      Statistics should not be used the judge the prevalence of “racism” especially when baseball is more diverse than at any point in the past.

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    • Patrick says:

      i recall a new york times article where they go indepth in the youth systems of soccer clubs in netherlands. basically there are two ways to develop talent

      1) kids play it everyday because of the love of the game. for example in brasil theres less development but all the kids love it. they see pele and others and want to be them. also probably to the great success those players have kids want to play it more

      2) in smaller countries like netherlands where the talent pool is lower you have to identify talent and develop it. so players like vna persie you go with young kids and put them through a youth academy. you keep developing those kids.

      so i think during the 1980s and 1990s football and basketball exploded in popularity because it was actually on tv regularly and you have a lot more marketable and popular african american players. michael jordan is an icon and world famous. you cant really say about ken griffey or ryan howard or andre dawson in the same time frame.

      also US doesnt really develop talent well. we keep kids playing with their same age group as opposed to ability and we’ve bound athletics to our school system. we cant scout and sign 16 year olds like they do in latin america and get them with professional trainers and coaches.

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    • John says:

      Do the riches come quicker, though? There are only 14 lottery slots in basketball. Football only a few rounds of high money. High school kids in the first couple of baseball rounds get payed richly. The road to get to the “show” may be tougher but the financial argument is one I don’t understand.

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  2. Garrett says:

    Thanks for perpetuating outright racism. Much like the “women in baseball” this type of Glenn Beck journalism is outright bigotry.

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    • Yeah, I can’t believe that David said all these things….

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    • phoenix2042 says:

      all the words were orlando hudson’s… not the author’s. you know that right? it’s a player’s perspective.

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    • Robbie G. says:

      It is always surprising to me that seemingly intelligent people in this country are generally incapable of having an intelligent or even calm discussion about race. What is especially surprising every single time–although I should be used to it by now–is that a pretty large majority of white Americans consider any attempt to discuss the issue of race in this country critically/intelligently is itself “racist.” Let me repeat this point in simpler terms: anyone who tries to talk about race in an intelligent way is being “racist.” “Talking about race makes me uncomfortable, and if you are making me uncomfortable, then you must be being racist!”

      Remember what happened when Barack Obama, very early on in his presidency, thought that it seemed like a really good idea to use the ridiculous incident involving Henry Louis Gates, maybe the most prominent black intellectual in the United States today, as a “teaching moment”? My god, did white people get pissed off. Obama hasn’t tried that again. Probably the best recent example of this phenomenon and of how white elites silence those attempting to talk about race.

      On a related topic: it is clear to me that most people (especially most white people) do not understand what is and is not “racist.” For example: I was reading an article recently about why such a high percentage of African-Americans don’t know how to swim. Those who actually have lived in large metropolitan areas in and around large African-American populations are aware of this phenomenon. [It's weird but true; Google it.] Almost all of the responses to this online article, in the “comments” section, accused the author of being racist and made predictably stupid remarks such as “One of my best friends is black and she is an excellent swimmer!” The author was obviously just exploring this phenomenon and its historical/economic/cultural/sociological roots/causes. It should go without saying that the reason why such a high percentage of white people have such bizarre (and incorrect) understandings of what is and is not “racist” is because elites are so good at effectively silencing folks who try to talk about race in an intelligent way. Consequently, most white people are simply completely unaccustomed to intelligent discussions about race and have, in fact, been socially conditioned to immediately attack anyone who attempts to initiate such a discussion as “racist” or as someone who is “playing the race card.”

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  3. Jim says:

    “Jackie opened the door for not just African Americans, but to Latin players, which, to me, are of African descent.”
    Is that a joke?

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    • RC says:

      No, statements like that are typical from racists.

      Latinos, are for the most part, of asian descent.

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      • Jim says:

        I like how he says “True that” right afterwards, as if he were providing himself with a footnote.

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      • Nathan says:

        Relax, I think in the context of the whole argument his point was that baseball should be all-inclusive, and the breaking of the color barrier shouldn’t just be about black players, but all players.

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      • Jerry says:

        What? Perhaps he should have said “Caribbean” instead of Latin (which was clearly what he was talking about because he mentioned “islands” in the next sentence), but there’s no doubt the populations of a lot of Caribbean islands have heavily African backgrounds. Haiti was the first black-led republic anywhere in the world following the slave revolt, and its neighbor the Dominican Republic (I’ve heard one or two baseball players might have come from there) has a lot of African ancestry as well.

        What about Hudson’s interview is racist? The only thing I find at all objectionable is his subtle suggestion that racism is the reason there aren’t more African American players in the game today. Everything else he said is true, and a lot of it is quite sad.

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      • drtrix says:

        I agree with Jerry. The vast majority of citizens in various Caribbean countries are of African descent. Same as we call blacks in this country African American there are Afro-Cubans, etc. That seems to be the point Hudson is making. They might be citizens of different countries and speak different languages but they are all of African descent and faced a lot of the same social problems.

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      I thought he was saying that Jackie Robinson opened the door for Latino players as well. After all, (most) Latino players were relegated to the Negro Leagues as well.

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  4. Nathan says:

    He said it right here:

    “Basketball and football do so many other things, and you can get to the league quicker. And it’s not such a grind.”

    I think that’s a big reason why any American athlete, regardless of race, once they get to that age in high school where they realize their athleticism and have offers to play multiple sports, often choose football and basketball. The path to the paycheck is much more well-defined with those sports. If you truly are a pro-level talent, your path is at most four years of college (where, if you choose, you’ll get an education that will keep you comfortable for life no matter what happens in your sports career), then maybe a year or two proving your value in the bigs. In baseball… christ… there are a hundred different paths, and most of them are littered with bus trips, wacky contract details, and lots and lots of “development” with little to no limelight.

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    • Joe says:

      I’ll be honest, I was looking at baseball and soccer in college (and fringey at pro- it was unlikely, but I had weird tools). My baseball coach, who played for the Tigers at the Major League level, said baseball just wasn’t worth the effort and time. The dude ground forever- basically a Jose Costanza. Great hitting coach though.
      The thing is, even if you’re a much better athlete at a sport other than baseball, you can bounce around the various and sundry levels of A-ball until you really start hitting breaking balls at age 27, see two weeks at the major leagues, and never go back up again. There are a lot fewer lower league teams in other sports, and you can make an easier projection of whether you’ll ever see the field at the highest level.

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    • RC says:

      Right, but baseball players make so much more money than football players.

      An average starter in MLB makes what, 8M a year on the free agent market (2 WAR). You don’t get anything near that unless you’re elite in football.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        The average starter in baseball after 6 years makes that. How many last 6 years? Otherwise, you’re getting 40-50k/year plus whatever your signing bonus was (not usually a whole lot) and then a pro-rated amount of the league minimum of around 450-500k (looking foreward). It’s not much at all.

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  5. David Pinto says:

    Get rid of the draft, and baseball will develop players in African American communities like it does in Latin American countries.

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    • Sean O'Neill says:

      Could you expand on what you mean by this? I’m not sure I see the connection you’re drawing.

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      • ZH says:

        Teams would be developing their own prospects from a much younger age in this country if they didn’t have to worry about losing them to the amateur draft. In particular, they would set up academies in African American communities, much like they do now in the Dominican Republic.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        IMO, this is a poor example to use.

        The reason there is so much interest in latin American baseball players is that there is great talent that can be had for peanuts.

        In part, this is due to the age that they can sign players. It’s also due to the economic status of the players, and their nationality … and they don’t have to be drafted in the matuer draft.

        Put it altogether, and you can sign equal or greater talent at younger ages for far less money because they are poor kids living in another country.

        Doing the same thing in “black neighborhoods” (so to speak) might increase the number of black athletes in MLB, but it would be repeating the same backwards (and now illegal) labor practices that we used to build railroads, etc.

        Why would MLB get rid of the draft in favor of developing “baseball academies” in black communities? Can’t we look at how “well” that works in LA countries?

        Don’t basketball and football have a draft? I don’t think it’s a draft issue.

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  6. Not going to lie, I’m surprised you got to talk to Hudson. When I spent time in the clubhouse with the Twins last year, I was told he was pretty much off-limits, as was Delmon Young.

    Then again, I’m no David Laurila. ;)

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  7. opisgod says:

    Am I bad for automatically assuming Alex Remington was the author of this article before reading it?

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  8. Hurtlocker says:

    There is also a disproportionate number (high) of black players playing basketball and a disprortionate number (low) of blacks playing golf. What does that mean?? I think it’s the preference for a sport you get when you are a kid, we all gravitated to the sport we liked best. Role models certainly make a difference too, you want to grow to be like your hero. Which is kind of funny for me as I’m a white guy that wanted to grow up being like Willie Mays. I could have done it but I had a markedly low talent quotient (LTQ).

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  9. Omar says:

    Please people, just ignore this ridiculously stupid subject so it can just go away.

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    • I think commenting on it is the opposite of ignoring it, but who am I to say?

      I think it’s good to have a little controversy every now and then. In fact, I’d much rather hear a player speak his mind than give the company answer. Luke Scott and Orlando Hudson let us know that players are just like everyday people. They have views – perhaps misguided – but being famous doesn’t mean they have to be right.

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      • Garrett says:

        Do we have to aid every famous idiot in perpetuating the unsavory? If he was ranting about Stormfront and the demise of the American White, would he be given the same platform?

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  10. William says:

    Was Garrett really trying to imply that race is a factor in athletic ability? What year is it? Perhaps phrenology can answer our questions!

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  11. Garrett says:

    I wasn’t implying. I explicitly stated that West Africans have genetic advantages for sprinting. If you’d like to counter this, okay glhf.

    I also wasn’t aware West African was a race. Blacks are a race, but this is more specific than simply being black.

    Do you actually disagree with such an obvious statement?

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  12. Omar says:

    Are we talking about African Americans or Blacks? Because those are two completely different groups of people.

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    • Garrett says:

      Most people ranting about the demise of African Americans in baseball and racism forget to casually include black Latin players coming into the league (or other non-whites). Using African Americans subtly shifts the goalposts to make the argument more compelling to the uneducated.

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      • Omar says:

        What do they consider Derek Jeter? Black? White? or just put a 0.5 in the “black” column?

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        This discussion is about the lower number of African-American baseball players. Black latinos shouldn’t be included.

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      • Garrett says:

        I dunno. He’s good looking and well spoke. So probably considered white.

        But then again we’re excluding David Ortiz since he’s “Latin”. So just make up some arbitrary distinction and then use it to conclude THE MAN is keeping your “brothers” down. True that.

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  13. Jordan Lyles says:

    I think that baseball needs more Canadians such as my boy Justin Morneau!! Also, Denard Span is a badass name

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  14. jim says:

    surprised this wasn’t written by alex “women” remington

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  15. Xeifrank says:

    I get the feeling from reading this that O-Dog believes that many black baseball players are stuck playing in Independent leagues and not given a chance to play pro ball because they are black. Without citing many current examples of this, I find it difficult to believe.

    They look like the old Negro Leagues. A lot of independent teams have a lot of African-American guys trying to back into the minor leagues, to try to get to the big leagues, any way they can.

    “Why [are they playing in independent leagues]? That‘s a question you‘re going to have to ask me after I retire.”

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  16. Sean O'Neill says:

    For what it’s worth, when I researched players’ salary versus production for my economics thesis, I included a small followup study looking at whether race played any role (I was doing this research in 2010, right around the last time Hudson was complaining about race issues in baseball). There was no statistically significant difference in pay to any ethnic group. So if race does have any effect, it doesn’t appear to be showing up in their paychecks.

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  17. Mike says:

    Blacks make up like 12% of the US population, they make up like 9% of the MLB. I’d hardly call that a large discrepancy. By that logic, white people are underrepresented as well. It’s those damn latinos who are getting more than their share, probably because of talent, the popularity of the game in latin nations, and the fact that there is a very large pool of players just south of the US.

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  18. Pelly says:

    I think it’s mostly a matter of culture. The African-American culture is into basketball and football, and not so much baseball. I think Jimmy Rollins said that after he won the MVP, and I think he’s right. It’s not as devious as O-Dog might have us believe.

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  19. bastardo says:

    wow. watching baseball statheads try to have a discussion about race is cringe-inducing. part of me wishes this was just a post about jeter’s UZR

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  20. Austin Brancheau says:

    I see the decline in African-American players as a concern so much as it means a reduced talent pool. But this loss is seemingly being picked up by more effective developments in Latin America, the Caribbean, and East Asia. The overall talent pool of baseball players does not appear to be negatively affected. It is disappointing at some level to see a group that once held such a prominent role in the sport see its participation numbers dwindle, but this should not a reason in itself to be alarmed. If African-American youths are more drawn to other sports, is this really a problem? Presumably a solid percentage of African-American NBA and NFL players are athletic enough to have achieved success in baseball if that had been the route taken. Should we mourn the fact that baseball wasn’t the preferred sport?

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    • Mike says:

      If anything, I think it’s more that there may be some guys who didn’t ultimately succeed in basketball or football, but could have been major leaguers in baseball. For example, it’s hard to imagine a guy like Joe Morgan having any kind of a basketball or football career.

      All the 5’10″ shooting guards or linebackers a step too slow to ever play Division 1A college ball might have the tools to be great baseball prospects. But if, for whatever reason, those guys don’t give baseball a shot, they’ll never find that out. Those who are concerned about the dwindling % of African Americans in baseball seem to be more focused on that group of guys than the Derrick Roses and Adrian Petersons. Or at least that’s my interpretation.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I think the guy that is perhaps baseball’s best example of power, speed, and spatial awareness (sports IQ) with a low center of gravity would have likely done very well on a football field.

        I can buy the situation of Joe Morgan maybe not being all that good at basketball due to its general reliance on height. But, if Kirk Gibson and Steve Garvey can play football at Michigan State, then so could Joe Morgan.

        I think the larger issue with baseball people and the decreased number of black players is the realization that what “we” value is not the same as what “they” value … and for one of the few times in history, what “they” value is now more popular than what “we” value.

        Black players loved baseball in the past and were very good at it, and made social and cultural breakthroughs while playing it. Baseball was, by far, the most popular American sport. Now, they like something else, and that somethng else is more popular than baseball, and we’re a little bit like jilted lovers. “Why don’t they love us/it anymore?”

        Another aspect is that sports are increasingly becoming “year round” activities. So, athletes may not play 3 sports in a high school season anymore. In the past there were even exceptional athletes that played 4 sports, performing baseball and track during the same season by just showing up to track meets.

        Football, more and more, is requiring year round committment. Basketball is now played as AAU in the summer. If you want any type of future in basketball, you play AAU ball.

        That kills baseball for a large number of black athletes right there.


        Really though, baseball is very boring compared to other sports. I pitched and played catcher. The time I spent in RF was awful. Seriously, there’s just not a lot to do out there. At least at 1B you get to shoot the breeze with everyone, and if no one is one base then the umpire is behind you and the 1st base coach is too.

        I think that’s why guys like Rickey, Nyjer, etc get a back and forth going ewith the crowd so often … it’s something to do and it adds an emotional conflict that is noticeably absent from baseball, but overtly prevalent in basketball and football.

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      • deadpool says:

        You’ve actually touched on what I think is a pivotal aspect here. Baseball doesn’t give out full rides in the NCAA. It just doesn’t happen. So if your looking to use sports to get a college education (a much more noble goal for anyone of low income) then you don’t choose baseball, and more importantly parents don’t choose baseball because they’re hardly ever thinking ‘pro’ before they think ‘college’

        And before anybody calls me racist for implying african americans are low income I’d point you to census data that shows they are overrepresented in that area, enough to make my point pertinent to the discussion at hand.

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  21. Hurtlocker says:

    There is also very few, oops I mean zero, women in professional baseball. Why is that??

    Disclaimer: This is a joke

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  22. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hudson did or has used the fact that he hops teams from year to year as part of his argument.

    Dude. Teams just flat out don’t like YOU. Nobody cares if you’re red or black or green or yellow; you’re a loudmouth.

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  23. CircleChange11 says:

    Waitaminute, You mean athletes from one of the most naturally athletic and energetic demographics does not prefer a sport where half of the action is “standing around” and personality is subdued? Ya don’t say.

    Other factors …

    [1] Reduced importance of athletic ability. Sports have traditionally been dominated by the demographic that is lowest in socioeconomic status. It used to be the Irish athletes, then Italians, then blacks, and now incorporating athletes from latin America. Read something the other day from Joe Dimaggio where he said only poor kids make good athletes … they’re the only ones willing to work at it hard enough. Throw in just general toughness from being poor, and there are advanatages. One could also examine the correlations between demographics and emphasis on education and affinity for other activities as well. It’s a whole web of factors.

    [2] Lack of baseball fields in areas where African Americans typically live. In latin American countries, the impoversished males have access to “land” and open spaces. Not so much in urban environments.

    [3] Baseball is not macho. It’s relaxed, sometimes even boring (if you’ve ever played outfield, you know just how mind numbingly boring it can be … even at th higher levels). There’s not much interaction between the players either (unless you play 1B). Basketball and football feature essentially the opposite … player interaction on every play. Player interaction is a polite, professional sounding way of representing trash talking, chest-bumping, celebrating, etc. Most demographics are far more social, outgoing, exuberant, and emotional than “white people”. As a group (white people), we are boring. Just sayin’.

    I’m wondering what baseball offers the modern day black athlete that would cause them to favor it over basketball and football?

    It’s not a tragety, it’s just a change. Fewer black baseball players is no less tragic than fewer white basketball players. I don’t understand why we spend so much time talking about it.

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    • Garrett says:

      We discussed “athletic ability” before. You’re a fucking idiot. Your contention was that everyone trains like Collins or does 5/3/1. Mostly because you’re a blowhard idiot.

      Please stop posting. Kill yourself. Kill all women in your family and your children. It’ll spare us all. Siriusluly.

      You are dumber than shit.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Not even the real Garrett is this dumb.


        For all others …

        We can talk to black dudes and ask them why black guys don’t play baseball. Pretty simple really. I know a couple of them, and they’re actually pretty cool guys, and they don’t really talk jive so you will be able to understand what they say. Seriously. No joke.

        All we have to do is look at numbers at the various levels of the sports (high school, college, and pro) and look at how the %’s change. The difference is not due (IMO) to desire, extra practice time, etc. It’s either environment, culture, genetics, or some combination of them.

        There’s a lot of dudes out there, particularly athletes, that view baseball as the sport that is played by guys that can’t play basketball or football.

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    • Sultan of Schwwingg says:


      You’re a good poster CC, but really; blacks are more naturally athletic, energetic, macho, and demanding of excitement than other races? Really?

      Don’t tell your parents, bud, but you’re a racist.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Not all of it is “natural” (i.e. genetic); much of it is cultural. I figured that was obvious with my “white people are boring” comment. White people aren’t born with the instinct to subdue emotions, dress conservatively, etc. We follow the norms of our culture. Same with other demographics being more expressive, emotional, etc.

        Again, I figured that was obvious. It just shows how difficult it is to have a discussion on this topic without people jumping to conclusions.

        Is it really being a racist? Or would it just be using “generalizations” when generally speaking of a large group of people? Those appear to be two very different things. Of course, as a racist, I’m probably just saying that to cover my tracks and make myself appear not to be, right? Isn’t that how this works? Any attempt I make to explain myself is used as furhter evidence of my vblatant and deep-rooted racist thoughts?

        Also IMO, the “racist” label is thrown around far too frequently and with very little evidence. It’s a serious label and accusation and should be used cautiously. But, this is the internet, slander away I guess.

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  24. Evan says:

    It’s pretty embarrassing that in 2011 people are still arguing like there’s some sort of genetic or physiological difference between “races”, or that “race” is even anything more than a cultural concept.

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  25. Gary Sheffield says:

    Only 7.5% of this season’s Opening Day big-leaguers were African-American, not 8.5%. Derek Jeter doesn’t count.

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  26. Phantom Stranger says:

    People like to say the talent pool is bigger for MLB now because of global scouting from Latin America, but there is no way you can dispute that baseball has lost many premier Black athletes to football since the 70′s. Baseball’s popularity has simply taken a nosedive in popularity among certain ethnic groups in that time, which closes off the potential of many young athletes who don’t even consider baseball an option anymore. It’s hard to know if one is a great player if one has never played the sport beyond little league.

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  27. David says:

    if there are no barriers to entry based on “race”, then who cares about the percentages. let’s just enjoy the game with whoever the fuck’s playing.

    I can see the fangraphs article already:

    …only .04% of MLB players have 11 toes, whereas .87% of all americans have 11 toes. something must be done about this injustice…

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  28. Paul says:

    You know, I’ve never seen an athlete just come right out and say, “It’s a white man’s game.” Surprised that comment has been ignored in the comments. I’m sure there are plenty of other factors involved, but I think the cultural paradigm as baseball as a white sport is death knell. If you watch Ken Burns’ Baseball, it’s made quite clear that the success of the Negro Leagues was due in very large part to the notion among blacks that they were fully American, and that playing the American Game, would help prove the point. It’s not really arguable that since the 1960′s the cultural paradigm in the black community has become, “If it’s perceived as white, it is to be shunned.” I’m not saying there are not good reasons that this paradigm developed.

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  29. SOB says:

    Maybe it’s a “white man’s game” by default. Well, except for the Blacks, Latinos, Islanders, Asians, and Irish.

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  30. Sox2727 says:

    Can we also just face the fact that football, specifically, is more popular than baseball (by about twice the margin according to recent data). This popularity difference will account for…wait for it…more people playing football regardless of the race.

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  31. dc says:

    do mixed players count as black??

    Like is david price considered an african american.. mixed players are more common now, obviously diluting the full black players.

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  32. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am inspired! Very helpful information specifically the remaining section :) I care for such info a lot. I was seeking this particular information for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  33. Raff says:

    David or Fellow Commenters:

    Does anyone know where one can find reliable stats on things like nationality and race of MLB, NFL, and NBA players over time?

    I suspect that MLB has the most foreign-born players (particularly Caribbean and Latin American, followed by Japanese and Korean), followed by the NBA, with the NFL having a significantly lower %. (The NHL would be a different kettle of fish altogether.) But my searches for such data have been fruitless.


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  34. Jujube says:

    The negro in America will never be satisfied.

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