Monday, August 13, 2007

The Neighborhood (in the MBL Dugout) Is Changing

I have seen this in my lifetime: The percentage of US blacks in Major League baseball has declined, while the percentage of Hispanics (black, brown, etc.) has skyrocketed.

Naturally, there is some resentment between black and Hispanic ball players as the "neighborhood" changes.

I remember the late 1950s and early 1960s -- pro football and basketball were NOTHING compared to Major League Baseball in the minds of all the kids I knew.

But then, there was a sea change: First pro football soared into prominence in the 1970s and then, in the 1980s and 1990s, pro basketball became the hottest game in town. Arguably no one was more affected by this shift in fortunes than young black athletes who opted for football and basketball in overwhelming numbers.

I love baseball. Black athletes are part of that tradition. Time to get little league and Legion ball teams going in the inner city. Also, now that many blacks are living in the suburbs, more effort needs to be made to recruit young black suburban kids to play little league, as well.

Not every young black athlete is a Michael Jordan or a Jim Brown. Some are Bob Gibsons, Ernie Bankses, or Frank Robinsons.

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