The New Faces of Baseball

Shaun Powell, Sports on Earth, April 15, 2014

On a campus steeped in African-American history and tradition, at one of the few colleges in the country claiming Martin Luther King Jr. Drive as a home address, a certain group of athletes is initially judged not by the content of their character, but by the color of their skin.

Whenever they head to class or to the cafeteria or hustle off to the athletic complex in clusters, other students will nod and reach an easy conclusion about the identity of these white players:

Oh, you must be the baseball team.

“Every now and then, we’ll hear that,” said pitcher Scott Wells. “People know who we are. It’s no secret. It’s never done negatively or anything like that. It’s all in fun. But yeah, we get that sometimes.”

Winston-Salem State University is a member of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, a distinction made necessary in the Jim Crow South when ambitious black teenagers had no other educational options. The school is roughly 75 percent black and has had a black majority for its entire 122-year existence. A singular culture dominates campus life. The student-body, the faculty, the football games, the music pumped in the student union, the parties, the Homecoming Queen and her court, “Big House” Gaines and the basketball legacy he built, the fraternities and sororities. All mostly black.

Except for the baseball team. That would be very, very white.

It’s a contrast found curious only to outsiders. Truthfully, the makeup of baseball teams at more than half of the HBCUs has been mostly white for years now, a racial transition that underlines the speed in which blacks have abandoned the national pastime since the 1980s. Imagine that: Blacks aren’t even playing baseball en masse at schools originally created to educate blacks.

On a baseball team that honorably represents a black institution, black players are . . . the minority? Yes, conflicting as it sounds, such is the case at Winston-Salem.

As Major League Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day and how he inspired black boys to grab a bat and take their cuts and someday dream of being him, there’s only scattered evidence of Robinson’s reach, almost 70 years later. The reasons that help explain what’s happening today are complex. Vast numbers of blacks aren’t aspiring to play in the majors, and perhaps never will, at least not to the degree of basketball and football, even with MLB’s best efforts.

And at Winston-Salem State and Delaware State and Florida A&M and Hampton and Bethune-Cookman, the baseball teams don’t accurately reflect the makeup of the student body. In some cases, it’s not even close. On those campuses and others like them, a phenomenon rings true: Whites are rescuing and saving baseball at black colleges and universities.

{snip}

Why isn’t baseball in the blood of black teens? Sit down; this will take a minute.

Baseball gets posterized by Kobe and LeBron and Durant, and baseball most definitely couldn’t beat Michael Jordan, the man most responsible for murdering the game among young black kids. In high school, baseball can’t compete with Friday nights and pep rallies and swooning teenage girls who bat their eyes at the starting quarterback.

Baseball isn’t found on bedroom walls. While Jordan was Pied-Pipering his way through the imaginations of millions in the ’80s and ’90s, the best baseball player of that era was Barry Bonds, a disaster as a role model for black kids. Ken Griffey Jr. wore his cap backward but was too shy and uninterested in actively promoting the game among those who looked like him. There are few transcendent black stars in majors to begin with, and baseball saw a rare opening wasted on two of them.

Baseball doesn’t sell sneakers. Think about that. Basketball and Nike push the most gotta-have-it accessory in athletics and street fashion. Therefore, what sport do you think grips young black boys?

Since Jackie Robinson retired, baseball lost at least two generations of blacks, which means the ball of choice that a father throws to his son isn’t white and round. Especially in the South, where peer pressure to play football is potent and intoxicating and consumes entire communities and towns.

Speaking of which, baseball needs fathers and sons to grow. The seed is planted with a backyard game of catch. With black single-parent households now at 72 percent, how much does the lack of involved fathers prevent black attachment the game?

College baseball programs are limited to 11.7 scholarships per team. Do the math there; few players get a full ride. Meanwhile, football and basketball scholarships cover 100 percent. The incentive to play college baseball is lost among high school kids from poor black families.

You can’t play three-on-three baseball. You also can’t play by yourself. And you can’t fit a baseball field in your driveway. The game requires 15-20 kids, a nearby field and committed parents who can form healthy leagues and provide structure and coaching. During the great American urban renewal of the 1950 and ’60s, when housing projects began to swell, city planners built asphalt basketball courts that involved little maintenance, not baseball fields. Basketball, then, was chosen for black kids in the city.

{snip}

Only 8.3 percent of players on major league rosters on Opening Day in 2014 were black, according to the league. (It should be noted that while MLB has fewer black players, the game is more diverse than ever thanks to the influx of Asian and Latino players, with a 2013 report indicating that 28.2 percent of players were foreign-born.) Changing that is challenge embraced by Bud Selig. The commissioner has placed his energy into two areas of concern: first and foremost the steroid issue, then growing the game in urban areas. MLB-funded youth academies in Compton, Houston and New Orleans are up and running, with openings slated this year in Philadelphia and Cincinnati. The Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program (RBI) holds annual talent showcases and more than half of the 220,000 participants are black, according to MLB.

{snip}

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  • Sharps Rifle

    And a lack of negro baseball players is bad how?

  • Feature, not bug.

  • Luca

    Baseball does not offer the opportunity for showboating the way basketball does. It is more of a team effort, there is time spend on the bench half the inning and most of the focus is on the pitcher and the batter.

    People who are narcissistic simply can’t tolerate the lack of attention.

    • It’s a game that does not reward the impatient and impulsive and the petulant.

      This mentions the holy name of Jackie Robinson, and today is the Holy Anniversary of the official integration of the major leagues, so I guess why this article appears today. (*) According to Robinson himself, baseball was his worst sport in college. Probably the only reason he made a pro career out of it was because in those days, baseball was the only money sport of the four he played. Professional football and basketball were in their infancies, and as far as track and field, well, even today, you have to go to Europe to do it for a living.

      (*) – Remember, on the evening of April 15, 1947 and the next morning, the New York and national media barely mentioned the holy nature of the day, and in fact, treated it as an afterthought.

      • sbuffalonative

        (*) – Remember, on the evening of April 15, 1947 and the next morning,
        the New York and national media barely mentioned the holy nature of the
        day, and in fact, treated it as an afterthought.

        That just proves how racists they all were; ignoring this monumental event.

        • alwaysright21

          n!99ers suck

    • Brian

      It’s also less violent than the other two.

  • Tarczan

    It’s pretty cool how he figured out how to blame YT. We built the projects and only built basketball courts.

    • sbuffalonative

      When it comes to blacks, you can always manufacture an excuse.

    • Oil Can Harry

      Yes, the next time you white taxpayers fund a housing project make sure to include a baseball field, golf course, Olympic swimming pools and a sauna.

      • melissa236

        Most of the recreation centers here are in the projects. Al ot of people hate it but hey the poor blacks need them close buy cause they can’t drive.

      • disqus_irCdmAu8It

        And an ice hockey rink.

  • Tom Mixx

    What has been covered up pretty well is Negro “League” baseball was considered A-AA ball at best. An incredible story not known for obvious reasons.

  • cecilhenry

    I’m confused, why is it not an issue when a university of 90% whites has a college basketball team of 10 blacks and a couple of ‘whatevers’?

    How has that question never been asked?

    Like they say— Why is this information produced??

  • Truthseeker

    It does seem like most black ballplayers today are the sons of former major leaguers. The lack of active fatherhood among blacks surely does play a part. I even remember reading an article back in the 90’s that addressed that issue. They were talking about a black high school baseball player who was the only black on the team, and one thing he said was “I learned the game from my father, and a lot of my black friends don’t have fathers.”

  • Puggg

    www ksdk com/story/sports/2014/04/15/jackie-robinson-day-cardinals-black-players/7752587/

    You can see what this is about from reading the internet url, and the answer is zero.

  • Well, the baseball team is the only group of azzletes that the university doesn’t have to worry about flunking out. Probably the only azzletes with triple digit IQs.
    I assume that courses in “White Studies” are, however, offered to the whites, so that they don’t feel discrimated against.

    • Mason Gull

      Sadly, you’re more right than you think about “White studies.” There are courses in some universities now, but they’re all about white privilege, racism, and critical race theory.

      • So, you take a course in black studies and it’s anti-white, but you take a course in white studies and it’s anti-white too. That wouldn’t do much for the egos of the white ball players though.

        • Mrfinoni

          that’s o.k… the Whites already have a healthy dose of humility so they can handle a little more liberal arts BS!!

      • Garrett Brown

        Kenshin Himura the Batosai, it is an honor *bows*.

        • Mason Gull

          The honor is mine, that it is. (^_^)

          • Garrett Brown

            I’m partial to Shinomori Aoshi.

    • BonV.Vant

      The only ones on campus without a rap sheet, gnomeasayin?

  • So CAL Snowman

    I think one of the big reasons that blacks abandoned baseball is because of the lack of instant gratification. Professional baseball has a very robust minor league system and every single player spends time in the minor leagues in order to prepare for the major leagues. So a black player coming out of college and into MLB has to spend time in the minor leagues before making the big bucks in the pros. Blacks coming out of college and into the NFL do not have to spend time in a minor league system as no such system exists, they make the big bucks right out of college. The NBA has a minor league system but it is a joke and most pro prospects spend a single season in college before jumping to the NBA and making big bucks in year one.

    • clemensb

      Sort of like…a job?

    • evilsandmich

      It’s interesting because they were talking to a black NFL player on the local radio and he remarked that baseball is the smarter career choice since you can make more money over a much longer career than in other sports; but unfortunately we was already locked into football. My guess would be that if you’re black, and you go to black high school with black coaches, etc. that the baseball team is going to play third fiddle for talent, much to the detriment of the athletes.

  • BonV.Vant

    “Why isn’t baseball in the blood of black teens?…..The game requires 15-20 kids, a nearby field and committed parents”

    The author slips three reasons under the radar
    Reason one, the more blacks that gather in an area, the more likely that trouble, crime and violence will take place. Fifteen to twenty young black males is a recipe for disaster, It just can not be done.
    Reason two: blacks do not maintain neighborhoods, nor do they have safe neighborhoods. Any empty field in a black neighborhood will become a dumping ground for trash, dirty needles, hidden guns etc. IT will also be a place where one goes at the risk of one’s life.
    Reason three” there are no “committed parents” in the black community. This goes against all of their DNA and hard wiring.
    Now for reason four-the biggest reason, which the author did NOT mention, but came kinda close to when he mentioned the “air jordans” .
    Reason four is that there is no built in opportunity for grandstanding in baseball. When one completes a home run, one is pretty much off the field. There is no place to do a crip walk grab ass, shake one’s booty, in your face, arrogant display of extremely poor sportsmanship. The game is structured so that any great achievement is done quickly, and then it is over. There is no prolonged leap through the air, no chance for fancy footwork, no chance to shatter a glass backstop. No chance at all to cater to black narcissism.
    Baseball offers it’s players and it’s fans a cerebral form of enjoyment that the black mind will never be able to fathom.

  • Lewis33

    “You can’t play three-on-three baseball. You also can’t play by yourself.”

    I don’t know where this guy grew up, but in small town Indiana we did just that. One pitcher, one infield and one outfield. And don’t forget ghost-runners for the at bat team! I don’t know how many hours I spent throwing a ball by myself, practicing catching it off the pitched roof of a house.

    • BonV.Vant

      maff be hard for da black mans

    • dukem1

      imaginary men on 1st and 2nd…pitchers mound is out for 1st…
      brooks robinson said the best practice for a kid was bouncing the ball off your steps.
      everything was better then,

      • Tarczan

        No joke that imagination is a white trait.

    • Arne Reisvaag.

      We called it stickball.

  • This is a slow meatball over the heart of the plate for the dork in Orlando with a fax machine.

    I wonder why his name isn’t mentioned in this article.

    But he does make a cameo appearance of sorts here. Click on the link in the last paragraph (“with a 2013 report”), and you’ll find his name.

  • BonV.Vant

    Baseball does not cater to narcissistic creatures. Blacks are so narcissistic that as their failure becomes more and more evident, they are becoming more and more violent. Common sense would tell a white person that if he/she was failing, and that failure was becoming well recognized, then the best form of action would be to behave and be obedient. The narcissism of blacks is such an overwhelming drive that they think they can conquer the world with their will, and that as black failure becomes ever more self evident, they become ever more violent thinking they can control perceptions through intimidation. They truly are a stupid , inferior breed of humanoid creatures.

  • Sloppo

    If you’re a big guy with no particular skills except being able to jump really high and run really fast, chances are you could be pretty good at football and/or basketball with a little practice. You can’t say that about baseball. Baseball is a game which requires athletic ability AND skills which usually take years of proper instruction and regular practice to learn. Baseball is a game which is usually taught to a son by his father. Without fathers who played ball, it usually doesn’t happen. Black men abandon their children at much greater rates than they used to, so it should be expected that fewer black boys will be on the baseball field.

  • Mrfinoni

    the implication is that all Blacks are extremely athletic and if they tried or were given the opportunity they would supersede all Whites in every form of athletic endeavour. Wrong!!! baseball is an extremely demanding sport that demands extensive training beyond the college years. it requires intelligence, patience and a host of other adjectives unsuited to the Black character. Wasting more millions of White taxpayers money in the hood. More White teams will have to forfeit or face the hood and prospect of their players getting shot.

  • alwaysright21

    bucks poop in their uniforms and chimpout.

  • Garrett Brown

    So glad baseball is back. I can actually watch an American sport that still has white males participating and excelling.

  • benvad

    Sick of hearing about him all the time. Talk about Mickey Mantle, the guy was a super ball player banging hookers and drunk every night, goes out the next day hits 2 HOMERUNS.

    Now that’s something to talk about.

  • Tom Mixx

    Yes, actually, he said as much once, that many team only had one good pitcher. After that, there weren’t many who had much stuff.

  • Tom Mixx

    Amren should do a study on what a flimflam all this malarkey is/was about the wonderful Negro “Leagues.”

    • BonV.Vant

      In college I had a “black” friend. While visiting NYC we went to visit his father who owned a “nightclub” in the city. The nightclub was in the Bronx, not Manhattan and it was a vacant building that his father brought booze to and shared with friends , but they had to pay for it. The place was falling down, one or two lightbulbs hanging on a wire, boarded up windows. The funny thing was that as we got closer to the “bar” it changed in his description from a nightclub to a “biker bar”. BTW, there were no bikes anywhere near this place, in fact, it was up the hill from yankee stadium and half of the buildings were missing, just vacant , rubble strewn lots. This was a good educational experience for me and taught me something that I have since noticed repeatedly concerning negroes. Their narcissism is so overwhelming that they refuse to see reality when it concerns themselves. This is basically what the term “n-rich” means. IT only exists in their mind. I’ have no doubt that the negro league was a laughable, pathetic imitation of white baseball players. Whenever I hear a negro talk about how great something of theirs was or is, I just think back to the “Nightclub-biker bar”

  • Kalashnikov

    Wait wait, did he just write “The great American urban renewal of the 1950 and 60s when housing projects began to swell”? Renewal? How the hell are blacks moving into projects on the taxpayers dime a “renewal”? Gah!

  • There are hardly any blacks in the major leagues.

    Not black:

  • MBlanc46

    Jeez, so now the political correctness Stalinists want to force young black males to play baseball? And by the way, when I was a kid we managed to play the game for hours with five guys.

  • DR teenagers who show promise in baseball are also given quite a lot of time to practice (not to mention a fake birth certificate). School’s not so hard, nor takes up that many hours during the day.

  • DaCoachK

    Where is the concern for demographics when it comes to the NFL, NBA or the SEC football and basketball teams? I mean, “YT” is not allowed to be in those sports in the percentage he is in the population. Answer: there is none. The CRA of 1964 is what has led to where we are now. That ambiguous monstrosity is let affirmative action through the door, as well as the entire “diversity-is-our-strength- meme.