Boston’s Betts is Blacks best hope
The 88th display of Major League Baseball All Star Game will be a similar reflection of its mid season classic in in 1949, two years after Jackie Robinson broke the racial color barrier.
Back then African-Americans Roy Campanella, Larry Doby, Don Newcombe and Jackie Robinson became the first black to play in the All-Star Game.
The league will basically have two Black reserves on the field in Miami on July 11 in the names of Boston Red Sox star Mookie Betts and Cleveland Indians Michael Brantley.
According to a report from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, only 2.9 percent of college baseball players in Division I were African-American as of 2015. Meanwhile, a USA Today study indicates only 8 percent of players on Major League rosters on opening day in 2016 were African-American, well below the all-time high of 19 percent back in 1975.
It’s a star contrast to the National Basketball Association and National Football League, and although Blacks highlighted the 2017 MLB amateur draft at the top, the league still has a long way to go.
Betts, arguably the best player in baseball, was a 5th round draft pick from Brentwood, Tennessee. He makes a paltry $950, 000, but is fresh off winning the Silver Slugger Award and Gold Glove in 2016. He will be making his second consecutive All Star Game is just 24 years old.
His gaudy numbers in his brief MLB career are eye popping, .301 batting average, 69 home runs, 259 runs batted in, 69 stolen bases.
Betts’ transformational talent is just what baseball needs, but just where might the next Mookie Betts come from?
MLB has invited the Capital City All-Stars, a youth team comprised of 11 Black players from the City of Columbia's youth baseball league to travel to Miami for the annual All-Star Youth Classic, a tournament featuring teams from across the country that will be played in association with the festivities surrounding the MLB All-Star Game.
The City of Columbia's selection for the event came, in large part, through its participation in the MLB's RBI — Reviving Baseball in Inner-Cities — program. The RBI initiative is focused on stemming the diminished participation in baseball among African-American youngsters.
As many black youths have turned their attention to basketball and football — and as many young white baseball players have flocked to expensive pay-to-play "travel ball" leagues — there has been an accompanying dearth of African-Americans at the highest levels of baseball.
Brantley will be one of four Indians playing in the All Star Game. From Bellevue, Washington, the 30 year old was the key ingredient in the trade that sent star pitcher CC Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers.
He has been ravished by injuries, but the 7th round draft pick has still put up solid numbers throughout his career. A career batting average of .292, 987 hits, 66 home runs, 431 runs batted in and 103 stolen bases.
The New York Yankees Aaron Judge is multi racial, Black and white and was adopted by white parents. Judge is the most poplar player is baseball right now. A freakish 6-foot-7inches, solar power home run swing and a bubble gum chewing role model.
However, for more Blacks to make it too the major leagues, more inner cities will have to find the resources to field teams and training grounds, and then at the end of the day and most importantly they will have to succeed on the field.
Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby would have been footnotes, if they could not play and I mean exceptionally well.