By: Malik Carey
Baseball continues to be one of America’s pastimes. The first baseball game was played on June 19th, 1846 between the New York Knickerbockers and the New York Nine. As we all know, segregation was alive and well during 1846 as the American Civil War hadn’t even began yet. Our “American Pastime” began as a game that was developed during slavery times in the United States. Most people give Jackie Robinson credit for breaking the color barrier in baseball in 1947. However, the first African-American baseball player was actually Moses Fleetwood Walker in 1889. He only played for four months as the segregation laws of the United States failed to allow a black man to play. For 58 years, the game of baseball went without a black man which is very horrific to think about. Even with the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, baseball still saw less African-Americans than Whites.
The fact that baseball began as a sport that only allowed Whites to play should give Blacks the hunger and determination to want to play the game more. As most of us know, the NBA and the NFL are highly made-up of African-American athletes. The NBA being 75% black and the NFL being 68% black, respectively. With that being said, the percentage of African-American MLB players are only at 8%. This is a huge gap compared to those of the “black sports” NBA and NFL. African-Americans should want to play the game of baseball more because of the high salaries and the pastime in which the game began. The Yankees and Red Sox are the only teams in the MLB with over 4 black MLB players. In order to improve diversity in sports and celebrate a free country, we have to get more black baseball players.
To improve this, we must stir away from the proverbial “baseball isn’t our sport”. Technically, that’s correct because it’s everyone’s sport. We should stir away from basketball and football so much and support baseball. Go to that friend’s game, catch a Squirrels or Nationals game for a date night, go support your local high school baseball team, catch a game on ESPN or even support the little league. We as African-Americans need to get our children and even ourselves into baseball more. The negative connotations that come with the game are astronomically asinine. Baseball is a very fun sport if one allows it to be. The joy of turning a double play, hitting a home run or stealing a base is just a thrilling as hitting a game winning 3-pointer. Baseball is America’s pastime that began as a white-only sport that can ultimately reciprocate into a diverse sport just like the NBA. It starts at home. It starts with you.