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Decline in African-American pitchers

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Someone started a thread on this months ago & took some heat for it.


So here's another story on it. Pretty hard to dispute this.


Palm Beach Post story


Mound decline


By Joe Capozzi, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 30, 2004


VERO BEACH -- At first glance, it looked like just another spring-training matchup: Marlins left-hander Dontrelle Willis against Dodgers right-hander Edwin Jackson.


But Monday's game at Dodgertown was a baseball rarity: two African-American starting pitchers in the same game.


"I'm rooting for the guy, especially being an African-American pitcher. We're all rooting for each other,'' said Willis, the NL Rookie of the Year.


"You're aware of it every day: There are very few African-American pitchers, period,'' said Jackson, who is trying to win the fifth spot in the Dodgers' rotation.


How few? When the season begins today, only four of the 150 starting pitchers who will make up baseball's five-man rotations are African-American -- Willis and Darren Oliver of the Marlins, San Francisco's Jerome Williams and Cleveland's C.C Sabathia. It will be five if Jackson cracks the Dodgers' rotation.


"Where did they all go? That's what we're trying to find out,'' said retired pitcher Jim "Mudcat" Grant, who is working with the Negro Leagues Museum to reverse the trend.


Grant, who pitched from 1958-71 and won a game in the 1965 World Series for the Minnesota Twins, comes from an era that produced African-American starters such as Don Newcomb, Bob Gibson, Al Downing and Vida Blue.


But an influx of Latin players in baseball and the ever-increasing popularity of football and basketball have led to a decline of African-American baseball players at all positions.


According to a Sports Illustrated study, only 10.5 percent of all players on opening-day rosters last season were African-American, down from 27 percent in 1975. By 1992, that ethnic ratio had dipped to 17 percent.


The trend is more alarming for pitchers. Eight percent of all pitchers, including relievers, in 1995 were African-American. That figure had dwindled to only 3 percent in 2002, according to a study by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida.


"The numbers of African-Americans in baseball has been on a precipitous decline since the 1980s, but the number of African-American pitchers has always been an extraordinary low number,'' said Dr. Richard Lapchick, the institute's director.


"When I comment on it in speeches or at seminars, and there's a sense of disbelief among audiences because they never really thought about.''


The reasons, Lapchick says, are rooted in stereotyping throughout baseball history. "Historically we consider the position of pitcher and catcher to be the thinking positions in professional sports,'' he said. "There had been a selection process of white people are good decision-makers and leaders and African-Americans have speed and strength so you had the majority at first base or the outfield.''


Major League Baseball has launched programs to reverse the trend such as Reviving Baseball in the Innercity. But baseball is competing with other sports such as basketball, where young unproven players can earn millions in marketing deals with shoe companies.


"With Michael Jordan, 'it's the shoes.' Unfortunately for baseball you can't wear flashy cleats to school,'' said Jimmie Lee Solomon, senior vice president for baseball operations.


Marlins infielder Damion Easley said he doesn't blame young black kids for prefering basketball to baseball.


"Baseball is not that easy to master. You see people like LeBron James go straight to the NBA out of high school, if you have a kind of ability let alone a little bit of size to you, that's an instant meal ticket. 'If I can just hone this skill, I can make my money right away.' "


Hall of Famer Gibson believes the problems that it's easier to get into other sports. "In baseball you have five or six years before you make the majors. You can come out of college and go into basketball or football the first year,'' he said.


Grant, one of 12 black pitchers to win 20 games, said retired African-American players deserve part of the blame.


"Some people say it's too expensive to play baseball. I don't agree. If it's too expensive that means no one in the African-American community has money. That's not true. We're huge consumers,'' he said.


"There is no motivation to black kids to play baseball, especially from African-American players. We can be a motivating factor. We sort of have dropped the ball. A lot of us that went to be big leagues, we finished, we moved out of the neighborhoods and we never went back.''


Grant formed a group called the 12 Black Aces, representing the African-American pitchers who have won 20 games. He is encouraging the 11 living members to promote baseball pitching in African-American communities.


In January, Grant discussed his ideas with Willis and Marlins center fielder Juan Pierre when they both visited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City to receive awards.


''I hope I can do something at the position to help,'' said Willis said. "I want everybody to play. They don't have to be African-American. I don't think it has to do with black and white. But I feel like I have a responsibility, not so much in performing, but in showing everybody it can be done.''

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ill tell you were they all went...playing basketball and football because because there is hardly anywhere to play baseball in the inner city...think about it,you wanna play basketball...all it takes is 1 more person...u wanna play football get like 3 guys and you have a 2 on 2...also eqipment for football and basketball are 10 times cheaper than baseball...another thing that i heard alot when i use to work for RBI baseball was they think its damn boring.....the kids hated standing in the outfield our striking out all the time...right after practice all they wanted to know if they could play a little basketball before i had to take them home...i just couldnt get to them to like baseball...

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i was the one who posted that there were only 3 black pitchers in baseball. i took heat for saying that because that is untrue. i later said i meant to say theres 3 black starters in baseball

yeah that did set off a big topic that really got nowhere


i really think what happened was there havent been any marquee black pitchers in recent years. i think dontrelle will have a positive effect and black pitchers in MLB will increase

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This might be incredibly prejudiced on my part ( and I don't believe I am) but I think it has much to do with recruiting. I believe African-Americans are more heavily recruited for football and basketball.


I've noticed not many black hockey players......

I believe the only American player (NHL hockey) who is African is Mike Grier. The only others are originally slaves in the south but their families escaped to Canada instead.

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Does it matter what color a player is? These stories (a similar one in Baseball Weekly) do they reflect a rise in Latin-American starters? Do they list a cause for a decline in African American starters? Do these articles issue a call to arms to do something to erase this decline? No!!! They do not. Unless they're prepared to do something about, what good does it do to point out the obvious. After all isn't baseball the one sport that it doesn't matter how big or small a player is, or what color they are or what country they come from.

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There is a noticable lack of black athletes in MLB, but MLB still has to be the most diverse of the three major American sports....


Without doing the research I'm thinking that the NBA has gotta be around 70-80 percent black, and the only dudes in the NFL that aren't black or white are kickers.


Pretty ironic that the only thing MLB has done right in the last 30 years stems from their long history of racial bias in their first hundred years.

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