The 2013 World Series started on Wednesday when the Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals. As it happens, these are the two of the whitest teams in baseball. Of the ten starters for the opening game, eight of the Cardinals were white as were seven of the Red Sox. Boston usually starts eight whites as well but their starting third baseman, Will Middlebrooks, was on the bench for some reason, and his backup is a mulatto Hispanic.
In addition to this being a heavily white World Series, there is almost a complete absence of blacks. The Cardinals have zero American blacks on their entire roster. Boston’s only regular black starter is David Ortiz, and he is the designated hitter (meaning he only hits and does not play in the field). Another starter for Boston, Shane Victorino, is half white and half Asian. St. Louis starts two mestizo Hispanics.
Both managers are white men.
Major League Baseball (MLB) has actually been getting slightly whiter over the past several years and is now about 63 percent white. American blacks make up only about 8 percent of players, and Hispanics are the bulk of the rest. Some Hispanics are mestizo and some are even white, but many are black or mulatto Hispanics from the Dominican Republic. MLB set up fully funded camps there decades ago to develop local talent that will play for much less money than Americans.
But if the last few years are any indication, whites are still the best players. If MLB funded camps for white kids in rural and suburban areas—as it does for inner city blacks—there would be even more whites in baseball.
There will be much barking about the lack of diversity in the World Series this year. Sports writers were aghast when the nearly all-white Houston Astros went to the World Series in 2005. Of course, the NBA finals are often 75 to 80 percent black with only a handful of whites ever seeing the court, but any sports writer who criticized the lack of diversity in basketball would be out of a job.
In one respect, however, this World Series is just like the NBA and the NFL. A black singer warbling the national anthem is now de rigeur at every American sporting event. The opening game of the series was no exception, with Mary J. Blige serenading the mostly white crowd.
Aside from her, more than a few older baseball fans are probably watching this year’s series and fondly remembering the days when America’s pastime was actually American.